BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Saturday sought to legally pin down Karnataka governor HR Bhardwaj’s sanctioning of CM Yeddyurappa’s prosecution, reiterating it was “politically motivated”.
Party president Nitin Gadkari too accused the governor of political motivation, saying the CM’s land allotments to his kin were “immoral but not illegal”, He had told HT the same in a December interview.
Jaitley made three points in response to home minister P Chidambaram’s defence of the governor.
First: a sanction is required “only at the stage of taking cognizance of the offence (by the judge trying the case) and not at the stage of filing a complaint”. The argument: the governor had deliberately precipitated a crisis at a stage when the sanction was not even required so as to “create an adverse environment” for the CM.
Second: Jaitley wondered whether a governor could grant sanction to a private citizen to prosecute a CM without an investigative process or judicial proceeding finding the CM guilty, quoting Constitutional expert HM Seervai against such a proposition.
Third, Jaitley said the home minister and the Karnataka Lokayukta relied on a 2004 SC judgment to uphold the governor’s action, ignoring the SC observation that “though the governor can act independent of the decision of the council of ministers and act on his discretion, the issue of sanction has first to be considered by the council of ministers”.
“The governor by acting on his own… besides having acted unconstitutionally, has challenged the basis of democratic functioning where primacy is given to the council of ministers,” Jaitley said. He added such practices would harm the federal structure, as political appointees to the governor’s post would work to destabilise state governments.