Judicial Layout sites row continues to haunt Lokayukta appointment

Judicial Layout sites row continues to haunt Lokayukta appointment

Justice Vishwanath Shetty too got plot on false affidavit

Judicial Layout sites row continues to haunt Lokayukta appointment

Submitting a false affidavit to obtain a site at Judicial Layout in Bengaluru north was one of the reasons for the governor rejecting the state government’s recommendation to appoint State Law Commission chairman Justice S R Nayak as the Lokayukta, some months ago.

Now, the state government is considering former Karnataka High Court judge Justice P Vishwanath Shetty for the post of Lokayukta. However, Justice Shetty too has submitted a false affidavit like Justice Nayak to avail of a site at the controversial Judicial Layout.

Documents accessed by the DH show that Justice Shetty, who retried as the high court judge in 2004, possessed a Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) allotted site in RT Nagar before he was allotted a site at the Judicial Layout by Karnataka State Judicial Department Employees’ House Building Co-operative Society, in violation of rules.

The extract of tax-paid receipt at the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) shows that Justice Shetty owns a property - number 71 situated in RT Nagar 1st Block. It was allotted to him in 1975-76. Justice Shetty, who served as the judge of the Karnataka High Court between 1999 and 2004, applied for the site with Karnataka State Judicial Department Employees’ House Building Co-operative Society in 2001.

The site number 1395 (measuring 80x120 sq ft) was allotted to Justice Shetty for a consideration of Rs 2.57 lakh. As per the society bye-law, a member should file an affidavit stating that he/she does not own a site, plot, house or a flat in his name or in the name of his family members within the city corporation limits or the BDA limits. This means, Justice Shetty’s affidavit with the society in 2001 was a false one.

During a physical verification by DH, the site at Judicial Layout was found to be still vacant, though one of the conditions in the sale deed stipulates that the allottee shall construct the building “in accordance with the plan approved by the BDA or City Corporation within two years from the date of possession.” Besides, Justice Shetty had bought the site in 2001, after a division bench of the Karnataka High Court made an observation that “judges of the High Court and the Supreme Court becoming members of an employees’ house building society is beyond imagination.”

Earlier, a petition was filed before the high court seeking probe into the irregularities in allotment of sites by submitting false affidavits in Shantinagar House Building Co-operative Society. The writ petition was dismissed with an observation that the illegalities in allotment of sites in this society is being enquired into by the Lokayukta and that the Lokayukta will only decide on the complaint.

Repeated calls to Justice Shetty went unanswered.

The saga so far
The Lokayukta post has been vacant since December 2015, after Justice Y Bhaskar Rao resigned in the wake of the Legislative Assembly admitting a motion to remove him. After controversy over the selection process, the government recommended the name of Justice S R Nayak in February 2016. Governor Vajubhai Vala returned the recommendation twice, raising certain queries on the allegations against Justice Nayak in the purchase of properties in violation of rules.