The plea comes after reports stated that the BJP high command has asked Chief Minister Yediyurappa to reconsider the appointment.

Advocate moves HC against appointment of Anand Singh as Karnataka Forest MinisterFile image
news Controversy Wednesday, February 19, 2020 - 16:05

A Bengaluru advocate has filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court against the appointment of BJP’s Anand Singh as the Forest Minister of the state. In his plea, RTI (Right to Information) activist and advocate KB Vijayakumar has sought that Anand Singh’s appointment be nullified stating that it was a case of conflict of interest.

In his plea, Vijayakumar has said that there is a conflict of interest since Anand Singh runs businesses in mining and the Ministry is the licensing authority for such businesses. His plea also adds that Singh is facing several cases in the trial court as well as the high court in Karnataka under various charges like criminal conspiracy, theft, criminal breach of trust, cheating and dishonesty. As per his affidavit, Anand Singh has multiple cases of illegal mining and offences related to forest encroachment against him.

At present, 11 out of the 15 such cases have been stayed by higher courts and another three are being probed by the investigation agencies. One of them is being heard at the  Special Court for MLAs and MPs, as earlier reported by TNM. Singh was also at the centre of the controversy in 2011, when Yediyurappa, who was the Chief Minister then too, was forced to resign after the Lokayukta convicted Anand Singh in the mining scam. He was also arrested twice as part of the proceedings of these cases.

Vijayakumar’s petition also states that the allocation of the ministry to Anand Singh “was done without application of mind in an arbitrary manner and with full knowledge that it would amount to a serious conflict of interest.”

Anand Singh was one of the 12 rebel MLAs whose ministerial berths were confirmed after they won the bye-elections and cemented the position of Yediyurappa as the Chief Minister of Karnataka for the remainder of the term. Singh was allocated the Forest Ministry on February 11, along with nine other rebel MLAs, even though he was given the Food and Civil Supplies ministry initially. He was sworn-in on February 6 along with the other new ministers.

Citing Anand Singh’s affidavit, which mentions these cases, the petitioner has claimed that the charges are very "tangible, irrefutable, undeniable evidence of the absolute presence of a conflict of interest" in his continuing as a Minister for Forests, Environment and Ecology. 

The plea comes after reports stated that the BJP high command has asked Chief Minister Yediyurappa to reconsider the appointment.

Soon after his appointment, there was outrage among environmental activists in Karnataka over the Chief Minister's decision. A Change.org petition was also started by activists of United Conservation Movement asking Yediyurappa to revisit his decision.

The petition read, “Why don't we invite Dawood Ibrahim back to India and appoint him the Police Commissioner of Mumbai? The Chief Minister of Karnataka has done the unthinkable!  He has appointed Anand Singh, a person who has 15 police cases related to Forest related offences, as .... take a wild guess: THE FOREST MINISTER!”  

They argued that this appointment will be detrimental to the morale of the department officials and impact their integrity under their own “rouge minister”.

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