The Karnataka High Court on Friday allowed the state police to proceed with their investigation into illegal mining charges against external affairs minister S M Krishna, state Janata Dal (Secular) president H D Kumaraswamy, and Congress leader Dharam Singh.
The police had filed first information reports against the three former chief ministers of the state – which has been rocked by illegal iron ore mining scandals – under the direction of the Lokayukta, the state's anti-corruption watchdog. All three had subsequently challenged the FIRs.
Dharam Singh withdrew his plea this week. The high court has now quashed the separate petitions of Krishna and Kumaraswamy, ordering the continuation of lokayukta investigations in respect of Krishna de-reserving forest land for mining and Kumaraswamy favouring a mining firm during his tenure as chief minister.
However, the judge gave Krishna some relief by quashing charges of mismanagement of Mysore Minerals Ltd by him, ruling that "though it was a state-owned company, the chief minister (Krishna) cannot be connected to the management of MML".
The development comes as a major blow to the Congress, the leading party of the United Progressive Alliance, as Krishna holds one of the three top jobs in government.
The Bharatiya Janata Party was quick to pounce on the issue. "Krishna holds the sensitive portfolio of external affairs. After the order of the Karnataka High Court, he should resign purely on moral grounds as his case will be investigated by the Lokayukta police," BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in New Delhi.