IT minister resigns, land scam hits Yeddyurappa hard (Second Lead)

Friday, December 3, 2010

BANGALORE - Karnataka IT Minister Katta Subramanya Naidu Friday resigned over a multi-crore land deal and the state ombudsman said he could be arrested if he attempted to threaten witnesses or destroy evidence.

Katta Subramanya Naidu has submitted his resignation to facilitate an impartial probe into charges against him and I have forwarded it to the governor (H.R. Bhardwaj) for acceptance, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa told reporters here.

We have no plans to arrest him immediately but he will be arrested if he tries to abscond, threaten witnesses or destroy evidence, Karnataka Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde, a former Supreme Court justice, said.

Naidus resignation came a day after the Lok Ayukta filed a police complaint against him, his Bangalore corporator son Katta Jagadish Naidu and eight others over the alleged illegal allotment of 325 acres of land on the city outskirts for a software company.

The father-son duo are said to have made Rs.87 crore.

The allotment took place in 2006-07 when Subramanya Naidu was industries minister in the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S)-BJP coalition government. Yeddyurappa was deputy chief minister in the government with H.D. Kumaraswamy of the JD-S as the chief minister.

Naidu is the fourth minister of the first BJP government in Karnataka to quit over a controversy since it took office in May 2008.

The others were Haratalu Halappa over charges of rape, S.N. Krishnaiah Shetty over a land deal, and Ramachandra Gowda in view of irregularities in recruitment to government medical colleges and hospitals.

The Naidus have been slapped with charges of forgery, cheating, creating false documents, floating fictitious companies, and taking compensation from a government agency for lands that did not belong to them.

Naidu’s son Jagadish was arrested in September while attempting to bribe a witness in the land deal case. Jagadish is now out on bail.

Naidu, who also holds the portfolios of biotechnology and housing, has denied the charges against him and his son.

The eight others named in the complaint include Naidus’ business associates and officials of the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB). The KIADB is the government agency that acquires land for industrial and infrastructure purposes.

The alleged illegal actions of Naidu and his son came out in September this year when the Lok Ayukta was probing payment of compensation by the KIADB for lands it had acquired at Bandikodigehalli, near the new Bangalore international airport, about 35 km from the city centre.

The land, worth over Rs.100 crore, was allotted to ITASCA software firm owned by an associate of Naidus.

Apart from charges of the Naidus receiving Rs.87 crore in bribes to get the land allotted to ITASCA, Jagadish is also accused of taking a compensation of Rs.4 crore from the KIADB for a piece of land in the area though it did not belong to him.

Three Karnataka Administrative Service officers have been arrested for doling out the compensation to Jagadish.

Though pressure had been mounting on Subramanya Naidu to resign in September itself, he had held on and Yeddyurappa had also come out in his support saying parents should not be punished for childrens misdeeds.

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