Karnataka: A long legal battle ahead, and the options


Bangalore : The Bharatiya Janata Party’s first chief minister in south India B.S. Yeddyurappa has a long legal battle ahead to come out clean from various allegations against him.

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Here is a look at the allegations and legal course open to him:

1. The main charge is favouring kin with prime residential and commercial land in and around Bangalore.

2. The second is he selectively ‘denotified’ (freed from government control) large tracts of land at several places in the state. These lands had either been acquired or were ‘notified’ to be taken over by the government to facilitate various projects – infrastructure, industry or setting up of educational institutions.

The ‘denotified’ lands were allegedly bought at hugely less than market prices by people who had invested money in the business ventures of Yeddyurappa’s sons and his close relatives.

One of the most damaging instance of ‘favouritism’ was Yeddyurappa allotting a 4,000 sq ft residential plot in an upscale Bangalore area to his elder son B.Y. Raghavendra, a BJP Lok Sabha member from the chief minister’s home district of Shimoga.

The chief ministers in Karnataka have the discretionary power to allot residential plots out of turn to people who have achieved eminence in various fields but do not own residential property in Bangalore.

But Raghavendra owned a site and gave a ‘false’ affidavit that he did not have any in Bangalore.

Yeddyurappa has since made his relatives to surrender the land he had allotted to them.

Opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular claim that the ‘denotification’ scandal amounts to billions of rupees.

Yeddyurappa’s justification is he has followed what his predecessors did and has not done anything illegal.

The legal options open to Yeddyurappa following Governor H.R. Bhardwaj granting permission to two Bangalore advocates to file criminal cases against him are:

1. Challenge in the state high court the legality of Bhardwaj’s sanction.

If the high court does not grant stay of the operation of the governor’s decision, move the Supreme Court for the same.

2. Challenge admissibility of cases that may be filed by the two advocates, Sirajin Basha and K.N. Balaraj, till legality or otherwise of the governor’s sanction is decided.

Political options:

1. Resign on assurance from the party that it will back him in his legal battle.

2. Try for dissolution of the assembly after presenting a populist budget in February, hoping to return to power on sympathy factor. He rode to power on this factor in May 2008 after the JD-S ‘betrayed’ him by not honouring the alliance arrangement and not making him chief minister after its leader H.D. Kumaraswamy enjoyed power for the first 20 months in 2007-07.

Governor’s course:

1. Refuse to oblige Yeddyurappa in case he seeks assembly dissolution.

2. Recommend direct central rule if frequent violence erupts over his decision to grant sanction to prosecute the chief minister.

Opposition options:

1. Keep the pressure on Yeddyurappa to quit.

2. Tempt the BJP to get rid of Yeddyurappa but continue with its government for the remaining period of five-year term that ends May 2013.

3. Hope for early court decision in favour of 16 disqualified legislators, which will reduce the Yeddyurappa government to a minority.

4. Hope for more BJP legislators to rebel against Yeddyurappa and join hands with them to bring down his government.

5. Use Yeddyurappa episode to pressure the BJP to soften its aggressive campaign against the central government over 2G spectrum scandal and demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC).