The stand-off between Karnataka government and Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde over the legality of ordering a judicial probe into land scams showed no sign of abating on Sunday with the Ombudsman questioning the former's contention.
The government earlier this month ordered a judicial probe into land scams after a spirited opposition attack on Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa regarding the alleged illegal allotments and denotification of land.
Justice Hegde held the view that the probe cannot be held as the Lokayukta is already probing some scams which come under the judicial commission for enquiry and the government has not taken his permission, which is required under certain provisions of Lokayukta Act before issuing the notification.
The state's Advocate General had on Saturday expressed the view that government is within its jurisdiction in ordering a judicial inquiry as the step was taken before JD-S leaders lodged a complaint with the Lokayukta, levelling allegations against the Chief Minister.
He contended that while the government took a decision on November 18 to order a judicial inquiry, JD-S lodged complaint with Lokayukta on the same day. But Lokayukta approved the investigation only on November 23 and sent notices to the Chief Minister on the next day. The government, by then, had issued the orders constituting the judicial commission.
Speaking to PTI on Sunday, Justice Hegde said the government notified the judicial probe only on November 23, and added that its "personal discussions" and "expressing view to the media" earlier (that it would order a judicial probe) does not become a Government Order.
He said the complaint was registered on November 18, it was numbered and allotted to a judicial officer. "From the time it's registered, the investigation starts," he said.
"It's different steps in the process of investigation. The investigation started on November 18," Justice Hegde said, adding preliminary enquiry began on November 20 and he approved the enquiry on November 23.
He said the government has not taken his prior approval before ordering the judicial probe. "They have not consulted me. Therefore, this (judicial probe) cannot be done."
Asked if he would grant permission to the government to order a judicial probe if his nod was sought, he said if the government deletes certain "references" (for investigation in the probe) which are already being probed by the Lokayukta, he is ready to do so.
"Follow the rule. Don't demean the (Lokayukta) institution... I am protecting my institution's integrity. I am not trying to drag something which is not mine," Justice Hegde said.