The Election Commission has served notices to three Karnataka ministers, including Reddy brothers, on a petition seeking their disqualification as MLAs on grounds of alleged amassing of wealth and misuse of power.
The notices were served on mining magnates -- Tourism Minister G Janardhana Reddy, his brother Revenue Minister G Karunakara Reddy -- and business associate Health Minister B Sreeramulu, state electoral officials said.
The action comes after State Governor H R Bhardwaj forwarded a petition filed by K C Kondaiah, Congress MLC, against the three Bellary ministers under Article 192(2) of the Constitution (relating to disqualification) on June 3 .
The Congress leader, in his petition, had sought the Reddy brothers' disqualification, charging that as ministers, there was a conflict of interest with them having business interests in mining in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The ministers have to reply to the notice by July 15, officials in the Chief Electoral Office, which was asked to serve the notices in person to them, said.
"We were asked to serve the notice by the Election Commission of India and receive an acknowledgement of the same," Chief Electoral Officer C S Suranjana said.
Bhardwaj had issued notice to the three, asking them to appear in person and clarify the situation, but they were represented by their counsels and even questioned the Governor's action.
On June 3, Bhardwaj held a hearing during which their counsels appeared before him, filed written replies and sought rejection of the petition, contending that he has not produced any proof to support his charges that they attracted "office of profit" clause. However, Bhardwaj rejected their plea and forwarded it to the EC for action.
"It is a fit case for reference to the Election Commission for its opinion under Article 192(2) of the Constitution and, therefore a reference has been made to the EC for opinion in the matter," the Governor had said in a statement.
While Karunakara Reddy and Sreeramulu are members of the Assembly, Janardhana Reddy is a Legislative Council member.
The serving of notices to the three ministers comes as another embarrassment to the BJP government, after last week's resignation by Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, who accused it of non-cooperation in his crusade against corruption. Yeddyurappa told reporters he was not aware of the notices issued to his three ministerial colleagues. PTI