As a case was filed against him in Karnataka, external affairs minister SM Krishna on Thursday said he had no role in issuance of licences for mining as chief minister and expressed confidence that the judiciary will put to rest "unholy attempts" at his character assassination.
"I find from media reports that a private complaint has been filed in the Hon'ble Court dealing with Lokayukta cases in Bangalore. I am given to understand that allegations have been made against me, two other ex-chief ministers and a number of officers," he said in a statement.
He said while his legal team would take "appropriate action at the appropriate time", he considered it necessary to clarify matters as "silence on my part would give rise to speculation".
"I wish to point out that I never retained the portfolio of Mines and Geology. Further, to the best of my knowledge, no mining licence was issued during my tenure," he said.
"Even if such licences were issued, this would have been done by the competent authority of the Mines and Geology Department," the Minister said, adding "in view of the above there is no wrongful loss to government. Consequently, there can be no wrongful gain."
Krishna, who had served as Karnataka Chief Minister from 1999 to 2003, said "there has been no de-reservation of forests, as being incorrectly reported."
He said the cabinet had sometime in 2003 decided to de-reserve mineral wealth for mining. "Government is fully empowered to take such a decision as per the Minerals Concession Rules, 1960," he said.
Krishna recalled that a gazette notification was issued pursuant to this cabinet decision which clearly states that applicants for mining leases have to obtain 'no objection certificates' from the Forest Department.
"When a gazette notification has been issued, it is abundantly clear that nothing has been done in secret," the Minister said.
An FIR was registered against Krishna and two other former Karnatka chief ministers by the Lokayukta Police on Thursday on a private complaint alleging that they facilitated illegal mining during their tenure.
"Everyone is aware that the then Lok Ayukta Mr. Justice Santosh Hegde conducted a very detailed and comprehensive inquiry into the issue of mining from 1999 to 2010 which covered my tenure as Chief Minister from 1999 to 2004," Krishna said, adding "there is no indictment of me anywhere in the Lokayukta report."
The fact that Justice Santosh Hegde has gone on record in public only further confirms this, he said.
"I fail to comprehend, in the light of the above, the bonafides of the allegations. Attempts at character assassination is one of the most despicable of human behavioural patterns," Krishna said.
"I am more than certain that the judiciary would vindicate me and put to rest once and for all such unholy attempts," the minister added.