Illegal mining: Probe against SM Krishna \'premature\', rules SC

Agencies Posted: Jan 27, 2012 at 1622 hrs
New Delhi External Affairs Minister S M Krishna today got a major relief from the Supreme Court which stayed the ongoing probe by the Lokayukta police against him in an alleged illegal mining case during his tenure as Karnataka Chief Minister saying the proceedings were "premature".

"We are inclined to stay the proceedings. Accordingly, the proceedings arising out of the FIR on the issue ordered by the Karnataka Lokayukta will remain stayed," a bench comprising justices Altamas Kabir and Gyan Sudha Misra said while hearing the petition filed by Krishna challenging the January 20 order of the Karnataka High Court refsuing to give relief to him.

The bench said the probe ordered by the Lokayukta court was "premature" as the proceedings before the ombudsman was "incomplete" on account of the failure of the submission of the supplementary report.

The bench, which issued a notice and sought response within three weeks from Karnataka government and the complainant, on whose plea the FIR was registered, also said "we are all anxious that truth should come out".

The remarks of the bench came when advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the complainant and social activist T J Abraham, opposed Krishna's plea for staying all proceedings.

He submitted staying of the proceedings will "stall" the entire probe arising out of the FIR registered on the order of the Lokayukta court.

However, the bench was not impressed by his submission and said "prima facie, it is required that investigation by the Lokayukta should be completed".

"The Lokayukta report is to be followed by another report or the supplementary report for the strong prima facie case. You are bringing the matter before the Lokayukta proceeding is complete," the bench said.

"You don't have to create a situation. You have to go by the situation," the bench said when Bhushan repeatedly pressed that the order of the Karnataka High Court should not be stayed.

However, the bench said it will pass an interim order and later "examine everything" after receiving the counter affidavits of the state government and the complainant.

Krishna has filed a petition seeking quashing of the complaint and the probe by the Lokayukta police against him over alleged illegal mining when he was Karnataka chief minister from 1999 to 2004.

The petition by Krishna had challenged the January 20 decision of the Karnataka High Court by which his plea for quashing the private complaint and proceedings ordered by the Lokayukta Special Court against him was rejected.

Krishna's counsel and advocate K K Venugopal contended the cabinet decision was a collective one taken by 34 ministers and an individual cannot be held responsible for it.

The high court had ordered that investigation should continue into offences relating to dereservation of forest area in mineral-rich fragile zones.

Bhushan alleged allotment of the mining area in the 11,000 sq km area of dereserved forest was not done on merits.

Krishna, Chief Minister from 1999 to 2004, however, had got some relief from the high court when it quashed the charges of mismanagement of state-owned Mysore Minerals Limited by him on the ground that "it does not constitute any cognisable offence and do not call for investigation".

The proceedings by a Lokayukta Special Court was initiated on December 8 last on a private complaint against him.

Krishna had challenged the Lokayukta court order in the high court which had on December 15 last stayed the FIR against him.

T J Abraham had filed a complaint against Krishna and former Chief Ministers H D Kumaraswamy and N Dharam Singh seeking action against them for allegedly facilitating illegal mining.

Singh, however, had withdrawn his petition from the high court, seeking quashing of the proceedings against him in the wake a PIL pending against him on the same issue.

In a seperate order, the high court had also refused to grant any relief to Kumaraswamy.

The decision of the cabinet led by Krishna in dereserving forest for mining had also reached the Karnataka High Court in 2003 as an advocate had filed a PIL challenging it.

It was dismissed on July 18, 2004, on the ground that there was no public interest involved in the petition.

The court had then held that the petitioner has not been able to show that the government has no power to issue such notification.