Bengaluru: A Bengaluru Special Court that deals with criminal cases involving Karnataka’s elected representatives has ordered the registration of a corruption case against former BJP Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa in connection with a land denotification case that happened during Yediyurappa’s tenure as Deputy Chief Minister in 2006-07.
“Register a Special Criminal Case against the accused No 2 Sri B. S. Yediyurappa for offences punishable under Sec. 13(1)(d) r/w Sec. 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988,” the special court ordered in response to a private complaint filed by a landowner Vasudev Reddy that was investigated by the Karnataka Lokayukta.
Special Judge Jayanta Kumar stated in his order on March 26 that he is of the considered opinion that there is sufficient material to proceed against the accused by registering a Special Criminal Case and summoning accused No. 2, as well as to offer the complainant an opportunity to prove his allegations.
The issue involves private land acquired by the State Government to set up an information technology park in Bengaluru under the State’s 2006-07 BJP-JDS coalition government. The acquired land was allegedly illegally denotified and handed over to other private parties causing a loss to the State and the original landowners.
The Karnataka Lokayukta police had previously issued a closure report in the matter, claiming that no illegal gratification had been given to Yediyurappa in exchange for land denotification and that there was no evidence to file a charge sheet against Yediyurappa.
However, the police investigation report was rejected by the Special Court in July 2021 because the police had not conducted a proper investigation and that legal provisions had not been properly considered while claiming a lack of evidence of illegal gratification.
The Lokayukta police took up the corruption case in February 2015, based on a private complaint made by Reddy in 2013 in a court over Yediyurappa’s decision to release government land in Bengaluru’s Bellandur region to private persons in 2006.
According to the allegation, Yediyurappa illegally de-notified parts of nearly 434 acres of land that had been acquired by the State for an Information Technology corridor between the Whitefield and Electronic City IT hubs “for illegal gain” through a July 21, 2006 government notification.
In 2019, Yediyurappa approached the Karnataka High Court to have the FIR in the case quashed, but the High Court, in an order issued on December 22, 2020, questioned the Lokayukta police for failing to undertake a probe in the matter for five years and ordered the agency to expedite its investigation.
The court rejected the submission by Yediyurappa’s advocates that he is accused in the same FIR as Deshpande and that the case should be dismissed because an investigation into him based on the same FIR would be illegal.
On January 18, 2021, the Lokayukta police filed a closure report in the case. However, the closure was challenged on behalf of the original complainant, Vasudev Reddy.
The order for a proper investigation by the Lokayukta police into the alleged corruption against BSY in the land denotification case was issued in July 2021, just days before Yediyurappa announced his resignation as CM, following pressure from within the BJP over a growing number of old corruption allegations against him.