he alleged land grabbing case in the Supreme Court against Karnataka Minister DK Shivakumar witnessed an eventful hearing today, as advocate Prashant Bhushan alleged that the Karnataka Lok Ayukta did not challenge the quashing of his own chargesheet.
Bhushan, appearing for NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya, challenged the order passed by Supreme Court on February 21, which had allowed petitioner Kabbale Gowda to withdraw the case.
Seeking a recall of that order by which the case was allowed to be withdrawn, Bhushan said that the matter was a serious one involving former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa and DK Shivakumar.
He submitted that Gowda was the second appellant who was forced to withdraw the case.
“Earlier, another appellant had withdrawn his appeal. We got information that Gowda was also being persuaded to withdraw the case. Eventually, it was done without informing us”, said Bhushan.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Shivakumar, questioned the locus of the NGO.
“Who is he? He was not a party in the High Court, he was not a party here. He had filed an intervention application which has not been allowed yet”, submitted Sibal.
The Bench also asked Bhushan about his locus.
Bhushan said that his client had headed a campaign for appointment of the Lok Ayukta. Further, it was their petition which had led to stoppage of illegal mining in Karnataka.
“That judgment is reported as Samaj Parivartan Samudaya v. State of Karnataka”, said Bhushan.
Bhushan also said that the Supreme Court has held that in criminal cases, any member of the society can agitate matters to ensure that justice is done, since the crime is against the society at large.
He further said that the current Lok Ayukta, Vishwanath Shetty, had appeared for the accused in this case in the Supreme Court (before he was appointed Lok Ayukta). This led to strong objections from the respondents.
Bhushan argued that though the case was registered by Lok Ayukta police, the Lok Ayukta did not appeal to the Supreme Court against quashing of his own chargesheet. He said,
“The State also did not appeal to the Supreme Court and it was left to the private complainants in the matter to file appeal here.
One of appellants was forced to withdraw his appeal. We got to know that the second appellant was also being persuaded to withdraw the case. Eventually they did it without informing us. They knew we are intervenors. I have appeared in this matter before also.”
The Bench had a short discussion before remarking that it will consider the matter on the limited aspect of locus of the applicant NGO.
Two weeks after the case was dismissed as withdrawn, NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya had moved an application seeking recall of the Supreme Court order dated February 21.
In the recall application, it has been stated that the mentioning was made without informing the intervenor. What makes this recall application interesting is that the intervenor makes a controversial claim that the petitioner might have been compromised and that there was a change of counsel to enable the withdrawal.
The land in question, around 4.20 acres, was notified land which had been acquired by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). The Karnataka Land (Restriction on Transfer) Act, 1991 prohibits the transfer of land acquired by the government.
Despite that, DK Shivakumar had acquired the land from one BK Srinivasan. Shivakumar was the Urban Development Minister during that period.
Shivakumar had then entered into a Joint Development Agreement with Prudential Housing and Infrastructure Development Ltd, and sought a change of land use from industrial to residential.
He is then alleged to have written three letters in his own name seeking de-notification of land while concealing that he is the owner of the land. He is alleged to have cited previous owner, Srinivasan – who had by then passed away – as the owner of the land.