HC bench quashes FIR against Walikar

HC bench quashes FIR against Walikar

The single judge bench of the High Court Bench, Dharwad, on Thursday quashed Governor Vajubhai Vala’s order of appointing a one-man commission to probe corruption charges against suspended Karnatak University’s vice chancellor H B Walikar.

Walikar was charged with illegal appointments in the university, misappropriation of funds, and procedural lapses in calling for tenders.

The single-bench headed by Justice H Billappa, who heard the arguments on both sides on a writ petition filed by Walikar, observed that there were procedural lapses in initiating the probe into charges against Walikar and 10 others.

Hence, the judge ordered quashing of the FIR filed by the Lokayukta Police against Walikar and 10 others.

Walikar, in his petition, had contended that the governor, who is also the chancellor of universities in the State, had no powers under the Karnataka State Universities Act, 2000, to order probe against the vice-chancellor who is an “officer” of the University and not an “employee”.

“Section 8 (1) read with section 12 of the Karnataka State Universities Act, 2000, under which the chancellor has ordered the probe, applies to the employees of the University. The  vice-chancellor does not come under ‘employee’ category. He comes under ‘officer’ category.”

Section 14 (7) and 14 (8) states that the chancellor has to act against the erring vice-chancellor on the advice of the State Government on consideration of the report of an inquiry ordered by it (State Government) under sub-section (8). It is the State Government which should appoint the inquiry committee.

In this case, the State Government has not been consulted. Moreover, the one-man inquiry commission did not give me an opportunity to make a representation in my defence,” Walikar had contended and prayed for annulling the constitution of the probe committee and FIR filed by the Lokayukta Police.

Justice Billappa observed that there were procedural lapses on the part of the chancellor and in filing FIR as Justice Padmaraj had not sought statement from Dr Walikar during the probe though the latter had offered to depose.

Vala, based on allegations made by three members of Save Karnataka University Action Committee, had appointed the one-man commission headed by retired High Court judge B Padmaraj to probe the allegations. Accordingly, Justice Padmaraj had visited the university, examined the documents, and submitted his report to the governor, which said there is prima facie truth in the allegations.

University Registrar Chandrama Kanagali had filed an FIR against Walikar with the Lokayukta police on the direction of the Governor under Prevention of Corruption Act and Indian Penal Code, which led to the arrest of several people.

Special public prosecutor Mallikarjun Swamy Hiremath, who represented the Prosecution said that there were options to challenge the HC order. Action Committee member and senior advocate Arun Joshi claimed that the court has given only temporary relief to Walikar citing technical grounds.

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