Karnataka HC allows DKS to drop plea challenging sanction to CBI on graft charge

This comes after the Karnataka government withdrew the sanction accorded to the CBI by the previous BJP government to investigate a disproportionate assets case against Deputy CM and state Congress chief DK Shivakumar.
DK Shivakumar
DK Shivakumar
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The Karnataka High Court granted Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar permission to withdraw his plea challenging the legality of the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) sanction to probe the Rs 74.93-crore disproportionate assets case against him. The decision came after the state government withdrew the sanction for prosecution on Tuesday.

A division bench, consisting of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit, issued the order while disposing of the writ appeal filed by Shivakumar. The appeal contested the April 20, 2023 verdict of a single judge who had upheld the legality of the 2019 sanction.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the state government presented a Government Order from November 28, officially withdrawing the consent. Simultaneously. Shivakumar's counsel submitted a memo seeking permission to withdraw both the writ petition filed in 2020 challenging the 2019 sanction and the writ appeal against the single judge's decision. Senior Advocates Abhishek Singhvi and Uday Holla argued that the petitions had become irrelevant due to the withdrawal of the September 25, 2019 sanction by the Karnataka government.

Read: Explainer: Why Karnataka can withdraw consent for CBI probe on DKS

CBI's counsel, Advocate P Prasanna Kumar expressed no objection to the withdrawal of the writ appeal but opposed permitting the withdrawal of the writ petition. He said that the withdrawal of sanction/consent would not impact the already registered First Information Report (FIR), citing the Supreme Court's 1994 judgement in the case of Kazi Lhendup Dorji Vs CBI. Advocate Venkatesh P Dalwai, representing BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, opposed Shivakumar's plea withdrawal. Dalwai argued that such withdrawal while the matter was sub-judice amounted to “interference of the government in judicial proceedings.”

Responding to these arguments, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the state government, along with Advocate General Shashi Kiran Shetty, contended that the cited judgement by the CBI's counsel was not applicable to the present case.

The Bench, taking note of all submissions and acknowledging that the November 28, 2023 Government Order had not been challenged, stated that it could not prevent Shivakumar from withdrawing his pleas. The Bench permitted the withdrawal of both the writ petition and the writ appeal without delving into the legality of the September 25, 2019 sanction/consent or the single judge's April verdict. The Bench clarified that it was not making any observation on the correctness or legality of the November 28 order of withdrawal of sanction/consent.

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