Modi sets up commission to preempt Yeddyurappa fate

By TCN Special Correspondent,

Ahmedabad: In a deft political move, the Narendra Modi government has appointed Justice (retd) MB Shah Commission of Inquiry and handed it over 17 cases of alleged corruption that took place in the last five to six years. The commission has been asked to complete the inquiry by March 2012.

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Modi seems to have taken the step to take the initiative from Lokayukta who is in all likelihood to be appointed soon after the Gujarat High Court issued notices to the Modi government two days ago, asking it why no Lokayukta was appointed since the last one left the assignment in November 2004.

So, with pressure mounting on it from various quarters, Modi government cannot escape any longer and will have to appoint a Lokayukta to look into corruption cases in high offices, particularly those committed by chief minister, ministers and senior bureaucrats.

Legal experts say that even if the Lokayukta is now appointed, he will not have jurisdiction over the corruption cases given to the commission, appointed under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952. According to legal luminaries, Section 8(b) of the Gujarat Lokayukta Act, 1986, says that the Lokayukta shall not investigate any action which has been referred for inquiry under the Commission of Inquiries Act, 1952.

This means that Lokayukta, even if it is appointed, cannot investigate the charges of corruption, 17 in all, levelled by the Congress against the Modi government in a memorandum submitted to President of India Pratibha Patil.

So, Modi will not have to face the embarrassment as his counterpart in Karnataka B S Yeddyurappa had to after the Lokpal there came out with probe reports on involvement of Yeddyurappa in several mining scams. And after that, Yeddyurappa had no alternative but to step down.

The major charges against Narendra Modi include concessions to Adani group in allotment of land in Kutch district for developing Special Economic Zone and a port, Rs. 500 crore Sujlam-suflam scam, Rs. 30,000 crore concession to Tata’s for its nano car plant and allotment of costly government land to Chatrala group of hotels.