Governor Vajubhai R. Vala has asked Chief Secretary P. Ravi Kumar to look into a private complaint that has alleged Minister for Municipal Administration and Horticulture K.C. Narayan Gowda of declaring false affidavits on annual income filed before the Lokayukta and the Election Commission.
The complaint had sought sanction for prosecution under Section 19 of Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 197 of Criminal Procedure Code.
In a letter addressed to the Chief Secretary on February 15, the Special Secretary to the Governor in the Governor’s Secretariat has, with permission from the Governor, forwarded “for further necessary action” the complaint received from social activist Dinesh Kallahalli. In the complaint to the Governor on January 13, 2021, Mr. Kallahalli had alleged that the Minister, who has been elected to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly from K.R. Pete, had made a wrong declaration of annual income, and that there were discrepancies in the same.
Mr. Gowda has been a member of the legislative Assembly from K.R. Pete in Mandya district since 2013, and has been elected thrice, twice on the JD(S) ticket and recently from the BJP in 2019. He was among the 17 Congress-JD(S) legislators who switched sides after resigning, leading to the fall of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in 2019 July.
Mr. Kallahalli, in his complaint, alleged that Mr. Gowda possessed wealth and property disproportionate to his known sources of income. “This amounts to criminal misconduct by a public servant under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, and Representation of People Act, and Indian Penal Code,” he said in the complaint.
Mr. Kallahalli relied on the affidavits filed by Mr. Gowda with the Lokayukta between 2012-2013 and 2017-2018, and the election affidavit in 2013 and 2018. He alleged that between the affidavit filed before the Lokayukta for the financial year 2016-2017 and the election affidavit in 2018, the Minister’s assets went up by a whopping 2,300%.
Sources close to the Minister, however, said that the Chief Secretary was not the authority to sanction prosecution, and that the Cabinet has to decide on the issue.
Sources in the legal fraternity said the Governor has not sought any opinion from the State but has merely forwarded the letter for further action. The procedure is that it will go to the Cabinet through the department concerned, and the Cabinet will advise the Governor. In the earlier case involving B.S.Yediyurappa, the Cabinet resolved not to grant sanction against him but the then Governor H.R. Bharadwaj had granted sanction.