SC Stays Proceedings by Lokayukta in Bribery Case Against Former Karnataka Chief Minister

Priyanka Singh

Published on: September 24, 2022 at 19:04 IST

The Supreme Court issued a notice on Friday in a plea challenging the Karnataka High Court’s order regarding a bribery complaint filed against former Chief Minister B.S Yediyurappa, his son B. Y Vijayendra and others, under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The bench of Justice D. Y Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli stayed further proceedings by the Lokayukta.

Senior Advocates, Siddharth Dave and Mukul Rohatgi contested on behalf of Yediyurappa and argued that the Prevention of Corruption Act requires prior sanction before the conduction of any inquiry or investigation of offences related to the recommendations made by public servant in discharge of official duties.

While referring to Section 17 of the Act, Advocate Dave regarded the judgment of Supreme Court in the Anil Kumar vs. Ayyappa case, where prior sanction was held necessary for the Special Judge to even forward the complaint u/s 156(3) of CrPC.

The Counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent had submitted the decision in Ayyapa, which was referred to a larger bench for consideration.

He contended that u/s 19(1) of the Act, no Court can take cognizance of offences as regards with the public servant, except with previous sanction. But, if the Special Court takes cognizance of an offence u/s 19, with regards to the facts laid down in Chapter XV and Section 190(1)(a) of CrPC.

The requirement of sanction is only at the stage where the Special Court has not dismissed the complaint u/s 203 of the CrPC, and when the Court directs the complainant to obtain sanction for the prosecution to enable further proceedings by issuance to the accused u/s 204 of the CrPC.

In the light of the 2018 Amendment to Section 19(1) of the Act, with regards to Sections 8, 9 and 10, it is not required to obtain a previous sanction and if the Special Judge were to proceed against the accused as regards such offence, the question regarding the previous sanction will not arise.

It was contended that the ban on enquiry, inquiry and investigation is against the exercise of power by the police. Also, when the private complaint is before the Court ordered for investigation u/s 156(3) CrPC, such bar u/s 17A would not restrain the Court’s power.

The bar would come into action only after the registration of an FIR, after which the police is required to commence investigation.

Yet, the Governor has refused Advocate Rohatgi’s argument, and was countered by the petitioner’s counsel arguing that the complainant approaching the Governor for sanction for prosecution is not of legal significance, pointing incompetence, therefore ignoring such request as the request is not made by any Investigation Agency or by any Police Officer with regards to the First Proviso to Section 19 of the Act.

About the Case –

The complaint alleged of an exchange of rupees in amount of Crores alleged to have taken place in Bengaluru in the name of the stalled project of BDA and work order being issued in favour of M/s Ramalingam Construction Company Pvt. Ltd.

The company is also owned by accuse No. 5, Chandrakanth Ramalingam and that, Yediyurappa’s son demanded Rs. 12.5 Cr on behalf of his father.

Secondly, it was alleged that accused No.7, Dr. G. C. Prakash had received the above amount from accused No. 8 K. Ravi on the assurance that the amount will be handed over to Yediyurappa via son.

Thirdly, it was alleged that Yediyurappa and co-accused had indulged in corruption by using Shell Companies and that Rs.3,41,00,0000/- was transferred to the companies in return of the said amount being transferred in the bank accounts of the companies owned by Yediyurappa’s family.

Special Judge referred to the judgment in the case of Anil Kumar and Ors. vs. M.K. Aiyappa and Anr. (2013) 10 SCC 705, and further recorder that an order of reference for investigation u/s 156(3) of CrPC cannot be made without valid selection as given u/s 19(1) of the Act.

The High Court had partly allowed the petition filed by complainant Abraham T. J and set aside the order dated 8th July, 2021, as passed by the Special Court set up for trying a case against Legislators.

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