Bengaluru: The High Court of Karnataka issued a directive on Wednesday, instructing the state government to submit the report of the Justice HN Nagamohan Das Commission in a sealed cover within 45 days. The one-man commission was established to investigate allegations of “40% commission” in government contracts during the previous BJP regime.
The petition, filed before the single bench by contractors, challenged the government order of August 5, 2023, which constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe contracts for BBMP works during 2019-20 and 2022-23.
During the hearing, it was noted that while the SIT was formed on August 5, the one-man commission was constituted on August 25. When the court observed that no paperwork had progressed in those proceedings, the Attorney General submitted that if given a reasonable amount of time, the findings of the SIT could be transferred to the commission for a comprehensive inquiry.
Justice M Nagaprasanna remarked, “The submissions merit acceptance. In light of the order of the constitution of the SIT itself being questioned before this court and the findings of the SIT being transferred to the one-man commission, the petition deserves to be kept pending and not disposed . Therefore, an outer limit of 45 days is granted for the commission to consider all respective documents that would be placed by all stakeholders and the commission.”
The court specified that the report must be presented in a sealed cover, advising the petitioners not to precipitate the matter until the report is submitted to the court.
In the latest development, the Attorney General (AG) has proposed a disbursement plan wherein 75% of the funds or claims for contractors without any allegations of irregularities will be allocated based on seniority. This seniority will be determined by the order of completion of work and the corresponding claim.
In a related development, the Attorney General (AG) apprised a division bench, comprising Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit, of the directives issued by the single bench. This update occurred during the hearing of a civil contempt petition lodged by Nikshep Infra Projects Limited, citing nonpayment concerns.
During the proceedings, Justice Krishna S Dixit once again expressed dissatisfaction with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for the delay in disbursement. He remarked orally, “No conscientious contractor would step forward due to a lack of trust in the state government.”
The AG informed the court that, as of the present date, 50% of the owed amount has been disbursed to the complainant. The company had initiated the contempt petition, alleging nonpayment of Rs 16.4 crore, in accordance with the contract certificate issued by the BBMP on July 15, 2022.
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