Karnataka cautious

Print edition : June 12, 2015

THE Karnataka government is dithering over whether it should file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the High Court’s acquittal of Jayalalithaa and three others in the disproportionate assets case. This, despite the fact that, citing sufficient legal grounds, the government-appointed Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) for the case, B.V. Acharya, State Advocate General Ravivarma Kumar, and the legal adviser to the government Brijesh Kalappa have all advised the Siddaramaiah government to go ahead with an appeal.

Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs T.B. Jayachandra, admitting that the State Law Department had received reports/advice from Acharya and Ravivarma, said “a decision would be taken in a few days, maybe a week”.

Speaking to Frontline on May 19, he said: “Yes, the Law Department has received the reports and examined them. I was informed by the Secretary of the Law Department that he has put up the file for me to peruse. I have to go through the file, compare the Law Department’s views and that of the SPP and the Advocate General, and then conclude what Karnataka should do. But since I am preoccupied with the gram panchayat election campaign, it may take a few days before I view the file. Anyway, we have 90 days [from May 11] to file a review petition in the Supreme Court.”

The Minister was categorical that Karnataka would not take a decision without due diligence: “As per the directions of the Supreme Court, Karnataka has stepped into the shoes of Tamil Nadu and become the sole prosecuting agency in the case. Once I study the file, I can confer with the Chief Minister and take the appropriate call.”

He said the Congress high command was yet to communicate its stand on the issue. Another senior Minister admitted to Frontline that the question whether an appeal should be filed need not even come up before the Cabinet. But Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Jayachandra, and the political class are well aware of the ramifications of whatever decision it takes. While the overwhelming public perception is that the government should appeal, lest it be seen as being sympathetic towards corruption, the ruling dispensation is wary of the fact that a decision to appeal should not be perceived as anti-Tamil.

According to a Congressman, another reason for the caution is that the Bangalore civic body elections are scheduled for the end of May, and the party would not like to antagonise the city’s sizeable Tamil population.

Ravi Sharma

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