Karnataka government, ombudsman spar over land scam probe


Bangalore : The Karnataka Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government Saturday continued to spar over the probe into allegations of improper land deals by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.

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Ombudsman N. Santosh Hegde, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, took strong exception to the state government seeking information on the status of various probes he was conducting.

“They have raised this issue as I am investigating allegations against the chief minister,” he told reporters here.

Hegde lashed out the government, saying it had not acted on his report on illegal mining and other reports on corruption.

“The government has not acted on the report on illegal mining. No action has been taken against people involved in illegal mining,” he said.

Late Friday the government sought information from Hegde on the status of various probes. The government action came within hours of Hegde strongly criticising it for ordering a judicial probe into various land deals in the last 15 years.

An angry Hegde said Friday that ordering another probe when he was investigating the case violated laws.

He also told the government to wind up the Lok Ayukta if it did not have trust in it.

The Yeddyurappa government has appointed retired Karnataka High Court judge B. Padmaraj to probe records of the past 15 years on allotment of residential sites in Bangalore and freeing of land from government control by various agencies.

Yeddyurappa decided on the probe following allegations that he favoured his kin with prime land and freed government land to benefit people who invested money in his sons’ business ventures.

Hegde asserted Friday that he would not stop his investigation into allegations against Yeddyurappa.

“They (the government) may accept the report which suits them,” he said Saturday.

Hegde hopes to complete the investigation before his term of five years ends in eight months while the Padmaraj panel has been given a year’s time to submit its report.

Hegde has been unhappy with the BJP government, particularly over the way it handled the illegal iron ore mining issue.

He resigned early this over this issue but agreed to stay on after senior BJP leader L.K. Advani persuaded him. Hegde’s father, late K.S. Hegde was a vice president of the BJP.