Land scam probe against another Karnataka minister

9:44 PM, Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Yeddyurappa v SomannaBangalore : Karnataka’s Lokayukta (ombudsman) special court Tuesday ordered an inquiry into the role of Housing Minister V. Somanna, former state chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and two others in freeing state-owned land from government control by flouting rules.

Admitting a private complaint filed by Ravikrishna Reddy, a techie, which alleged that Yeddyurappa allotted the state land measuring 23,892 square feet near Bangalore to an educational trust run by Somanna’s wife Shailaja in 2009, judge N.K. Sudhindra Rao directed the ombudsman police to investigate the alleged irregularities and submit the report Dec 26.

The Lokayukta’s Bangalore (Urban) superintendent of police will conduct the inquiry under the Criminal Procedure Core (CrPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

According to the complaint, the land under probe was acquired by the state-run Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) in 1994 to form a residential layout in the city’s southern suburb near the Bangalore University campus.

Though BDA paid Rs.6.83 lakh to its original owner Lingaiah in 1997 as compensation, he executed a sale deed on the sly in favour of Shailaja in 2004 for the same land by dividing it in plots totalling 22 guntas (23,892 sq.ft).

“The following year (2005), Lingaiah applied for denotifying (freeing from BDA control) the same land for reclaiming it on the ground that the trust had constructed buildings on it without statutory clearances. The state denotification committee, however, rejected his claim saying the land belonged to BDA,” the complaint alleged.

In 2009, when Lingaiah applied again for freeing the land from BDA control in 2009, Yeddyurappa, in his capacity as chief minister with discretionary powers to de-notify government lands, cleared it in favour of the trust despite strong objections by then principal secretary of the state urban development department.

Shailaja and Lingaiah are the other two accused in the complaint.

Somanna is the third minister in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government facing a land scam probe. Courts have already ordered similar enquiries against Home Minister R. Ashoka and Industries Minister Murgesh Nirani for illegal land deals under Yeddyurappa’s tenure as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s first chief minister in south India.

Scam-hit Yeddyurappa, who resigned July 31 after former ombudsman Justice (retd) N. Santosh Hegde indicted him in the multi-crore mining scam in the state, is also facing five other private complaints filed by two city advocates (Sirajin Basha and K.N. Balaraj) alleging similar irregularities in denotifying government lands after Governor H.R. Bhardwaj permitted his trial.

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