Dharam Singh's plea: SC questions K'taka on delay

Dharam Singh's plea: SC questions K'taka on delay

The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the Karnataka government over the four-year delay in filing its response to a plea by former chief minister N Dharam Singh against a High Court order that allowed recovery of over Rs 23 crore from him for the losses caused to exchequer in transportation of illegally extracted iron ore.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice T S Thakur, though granted permission to Karnataka counsel V N Raghupathy to file affidavit, asked him why the state did not do so in the petition pending for the last four years.

The court put the matter for further hearing on July 13. Senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appointed as amicus curiae, also submitted his response in the matter.
Meanwhile senior counsel K M Natraj filed an application seeking direction to delete Lokayukta from array of parties.

Dharam Singh, through senior advocates P P Rao and Mahalakshmi Pavani, raised a question of law whether the immunity from court proceedings granted under Article 361 of the Constitution was not available to the Governor in respect of an order passed by him in his discretion under the Karnataka Lokayukta Act.

In the instant case, the Governor, acting as competent authority in case of complaints against the chief minister, had in June 2009 rejected the recommendation of the Lokayukta, which was not open to judicial review, Singh’s counsel submitted.

The HC, however, has taken a view that since the Governor acted as competent authority under the Lokayukta Act, there was no immunity attached to his decision.

The Lokayukta, in its first report on mining, had held Singh guilty of misconduct and responsible for causing losses to the exchequer by permitting transportation of 2.38 lakh tonnes of iron ore, mined and stored illegally by landowners in five districts during his tenure as chief minister.

Bengaluru-resident D Natesh had filed a PIL in the High Court, claiming that Singh had ignored the advice given by then secretary of the Mines and Minerals department. But then Governor Rameshwar Thakur had on June 23, 2009, held that no action was required against Singh as he had not made pecuniary gains.
DH News Service

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