Retired bureaucrat's comments on MLAs referred to privileges' panel

V Balasubramanian had accused legislators of aiding land grabbers

Retired bureaucrat's comments on MLAs referred to privileges' panel

Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa on Tuesday referred to the Privileges Committee of the Legislature the reported comments made by retired IAS officer V Balasubramanian against certain legislators implying that they are encouraging grabbing of public land.

Balasubramanian, a retired additional chief secretary, was the chairman of the State’s Task Force on Recovery and Protection of Public Lands. The committee was constituted when B S Yeddyurappa was the chief minister and, he submitted a report ‘exposing’ several land encroachment cases in Bangalore and elsewhere.

He had named many individuals including politicians who were allegedly found to be grabbing public land.

In an interaction with a Kannada daily on Monday, the former bureaucrat had reportedly stated that politicians are safeguarding land encroachers.

He had reportedly mentioned that three MLAs — Ramesh Kumar (Cong), D N Jeevaraj (BJP) and H D Revanna (JD-S) — had encouraged encroachments. All the three MLAs took serious objections in the Assembly to the comments, which were eventually referred by the Speaker to the privileges committee for an inquiry.

Ramesh Kumar, a former speaker, said Balasubramanian had projected him as an encroacher of forest land although the matter was before the High Court. He said that he had bought pieces of land from about 15 people by paying amounts ranging from
Rs 8,000 to a maximum of Rs 32,000 an acre in Sreenivasapur in Kolar district.

Matter before court

The retired officer had said that there should be a permanent committee in the legislature to save government lands. But it would be of no use if MLAs such as Ramesh Kumar are on the panel.

“Should I be an MLA, if I am unfit to be on a panel? The Speaker should decide whether I should continue in this House. I have been elected by the people five times. U V Singh, an honest forest officer, had gone through my land records and ordered a resurvey,” he said.

The Congress leader said that when Balasubramanian visited his farm some years ago, he had expected him (the MLA) to meet him. “Is he the Maharaja of Mysore, to be welcomed?

On what basis is he questioning my integrity? He is behaving like Hitler and Napoleon and making irresponsible statements against me. I wonder what sort of justice he gave to the public when he was in office. The Speaker should decide whether the issue should be referred to the Privileges Committee,” Ramesh Kumar said.

Cultivation chits

Joining the issue, Jeevaraj said that Balasubramanian had wrongly stated that he had illegally given cultivation chits in 2004 in 122 cases. He said as an MLA he had not given even a single such chit. “But, I have been projected as a thief by the retired officer. My privilege has been breached,” he said.

Revanna said that he had granted dharkast land (gifted land) to eight poor Kuruba
families in a village in Hassan district. How could this be called illegal, he wondered.
K G Bopaiah (BJP) too supported the MLAs. Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra said Balasubramanian immediately after submitting the Task Force report to the government, had gone to the media.

“He gave an impression that he has politicised the issue. How can members function if everyone is branded as land grabbers? The matter should be referred to the privileges committee.”

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