Justice Saldanha Urges Governor to Stop Attacks on Officers Investigating Yeddyurappa & Similar Cases

November 12, 2011 by  
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Justice Saldanha Urges Governor to Stop Attacks on Officers Investigating Yeddyurappa & Similar Cases
Governor, High Court & Lokayukta Court have Valid Grounds for Cancellation of Accused Bail
There is Need to Appoint Lokayukta from Outside Karnataka – Justice Saldanha

Karnataka Governor, H R Bhardwaj

Karnataka Governor, H R Bhardwaj

November 12, 2011, Bangalore, Karnataka

Justice Michael Saldanha, whose independent report on the anti-minority violence in Karnataka, exposed the politician-administration-Hindutva link, and who took up issue of crores of rupees of public exchequer money being doled out as temple donations, has now taken on the BJP government in the southern India state on the Lokayukta appointment issue. Justice Saldanha’s report indicted both the then chief minister, BS Yeddyurappa and the home minister, VS Acharya, besides senior police and government officials for colluding in the attacks on minorities. This was diametrically opposite to the findings of the official commission of Justice Somashekara appointed by the BJP government, which exonerated all politicians and also the Hindutv forces at play. In a letter to the Governor, HR Bharadwaj, he writes regarding preservation of the institution of the Lokayukta, despite every effort from politicians to attack earlier Lokayuktas (Venkatachala and Santosh Hegde), making it difficult for them to function and to drive them to frustration and desperation. He hailed the Governor’s resolve to not allow this institution to be destroyed. 
 
Justice Saldanha complained that statements are being openly made and boldly printed in the media that a chosen person will be placed in the office of the Lokayukta and that in no time, everything that Justice Santosh Hegde had done would be undone and that all the cases will also be taken care of.  Efforts are made to choose candidates on the basis of caste and community or to ensure that a pliable person will occupy that office in the confidence that they can be manipulated. He said that the wrong signals had already gone out and the citizens now looked upon the Governor to arrest them.
 
Justice Saldanha suggested that it would be highly desirable to pick a Lokayukta who is not from the state, as this may make it more difficult for local factors to be pressed into service. He recalled that when the present Karnataka Governor, HR Bharadwaj was years ago, the Law Minister of India, the union government and the Supreme Court took a decision on having an outsider as the Chief Justice of each High Court.  Though controversial at that time, the decision has worked very well and at this point of time, it would probably be a salutary principle for the state to have an outsider in the Lokayukta post too. 
 
Justice Saldanha further added that, “It is almost unthinkable that senior politicians are openly intimidating the investigating authorities at the Lokayukta level and if this is allowed to pass, that institution will collapse because no corrupt politician will ever be prosecuted and more importantly, they can never get convicted if the Prosecuting Authority is tainted and manageable.  He points out in his letter to the Governor that “it is even more shocking to find that the State Government transfers police officers of integrity and professionalism without the sanction of the Lokayukta – this was tried several times earlier and Justice Santosh Hegde did not allow it. If this is not stopped, the genuinely good police officers of whom we have a large number, will get completely demoralized and the shameless and corrupt ones in the police force will completely take over”.
 
As per the Press Reports, the ex-chief Minister, has openly made statements that he will have all the cases disposed off in no time and that he will come back to power. Justice Saldanha pointed out that the modus-operandi seems to be clear, namely that the key Officers i.e. the good ones who are incharge of these prosecutions be humiliated, intimidated and transferred. He illustrates with an example – Mr. Gaonkar, the investigating officer in Lokayukta’s office. has been there for a very short time (60 days) and there is a total bar to touching him when he is incharge of sensitive investigations.  The media has pointed out that the replacements are Yeddyurappa loyalists and there is no doubt that this is a direct step by the state government to sabotage the present and future prosecutions. Justice Saldanha said that such moves are malafide, motivated and illegal, with the Governor being the highest authority being fully justified in ordering the state government to restore the status-quo ante.
 
Justice Saldanha drew the Governor’s attention to the fact that the officers sought to be affected, happen to be the Investigating Officers in cases that are subjudice and this is nothing short of interfering with the legal process in an attempt to scuttle the prosecutions.  He said in normal circumstances, if an Accused even attempted to weaken or destroy the prosecution case, through inducements or threats to witnesses, it was a ground for permanent cancellation of bail.  The High Court and the Lokayukta Court will have to put a stop to this flagrant interference with legal and judicial process by taking stringent action, starting with the cancellation of bail of the concerned persons, but more importantly by hauling up the state government and the concerned officers under the Contempt of Courts Act.  If this is not done, it will seriously jeopardize the Rule of Law in the state of Karnataka. 
 
– justice michael f saldanha has retired from the high courts at bombay and karnataka

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