Coming down heavily on the Karnataka government for its ”lethargic attitude” for failing to make efforts to obtain sanction to prosecute a former chief secretary, the High Court imposed a fine of Rs one lakh on it.
The government pleader had sought six weeks’ time to get sanction for prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act on April 20, 2022, and the court had granted six weeks.
In its recent daily order, the HC said ”It appears that the government is not interested in pursuing the matter and protecting the property of the State, which is at the hands of the former Chief Secretary. Hence, the very attitude of the State has to be deprecated and till date even not processed the papers for getting sanction from DOPT (Department of Personnel and Training) and yet to send the papers.” Hence, the HC imposed the cost of Rs one lakh on the state government which has to be paid within one week.
”The state government is directed to deposit the fine amount and recover the same from the concerned, who have not taken any action in getting the sanction from the DOPT in sending papers in spite of six weeks time being granted.” The original complaint had been filed by Bhaskaran alleging that Arvind Jadhav, the then Chief Secretary, along with the deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner and Tahsildar of Anekal taluk had misused official power to create fake documents pertaining to government land in village Ramanayakanahalli in Anekal taluk.
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The government initiated action against junior government officials and sanctioned permission to prosecute them under the Prevention of Corruption Act. One of the accused, a surveyor at the department of land records, D B Gangaiah, approached the High Court against the case filed against him through his advocate A V Nishanth.
This petition is pending before the High Court from 2020. The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had submitted the progress report on the case to the HC in sealed covers in 2021. The court was informed that sanction to prosecute Anil Kumar, tahsildar of Anekal and other officials were pending.
In February 2022, the HC was informed that sanction was obtained to prosecute all government officials accused in the case except the retired Chief Secretary as he was ”already retired from service and competent authority has to give sanction and the same is in process and it takes time since they have to get sanction from the Central Government DOPT.” In March, four weeks were sought to get the necessary documents translated. When the petition came up before Justice H P Sandesh on June 8, the sanction had not yet been obtained.
”…it appears that the state government is proceeding in the matter in a lethargic attitude and this Court has to prevail upon the state government to protect the property of the State when the former Chief Secretary made an attempt to knock off the property to an extent of 66 acres, in spite of complaint being filed in the year 2016,” the HC said.
The Court has warned of serious action if the fine is not paid. ”If cost is not paid, a serious action will be taken against the concerned regarding not processing the papers for getting the sanction from the department concerned,” the Court said.
The petition has been posted for hearing next on June 16.