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Palemar says he meant no disrespect to the Lokayukta

Sudipto Mondal


Minister meets Chief Minister to clarify his position

Palemar denies he is trying to protect the guilty




Krishna J. Palemar

MANGALORE: “I have immense respect for the Lokayukta. My letter was in no way intended to undermine his towering stature as an upright judicial luminary,” said J. Krishna Palemar, Minister for Ports and Environment, whose letter recommending the suspension of Karwar Deputy Conservator of Forests R. Gokul, allegedly triggered the resignation of the already upset Justice N. Santosh Hegde.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone from Bangalore on Thursday, Mr Palemar said that he met Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to clarify his position on the controversy over his letter. Making a copy of the letter available to The Hindu, he stressed that he recommended Mr. Gokul's suspension to aid a free and fair investigation into the disappearance of iron ore hat was seized from the Belekeri and Karwar ports.

The briefly worded letter, which was sent to the Chief Minister on June 10, said that it was being written in response to a June 8 article that appeared in a Kannada daily about the disappearance of six lakh tonnes of iron ore worth Rs. 200 crore seized by the Forest Department.

“…when I asked DCF Gokul to attend a meeting to enquire about the missing ore, he displayed laxity and did not attend the meeting. This raised suspicions that he too might have had a role to play in this particular incident. Because of this I recommend that he be placed under suspension pending enquiry…,” Mr. Palemar said in the letter.

Pointing to the letter, Mr. Palemar said that the Lokayukta's name was never brought up in his interaction with the Chief Minister over the issue of the missing ore. Dismissing allegations that he was trying to protect the guilty, he said, “I signed a document on June 22 handing over the investigation to the CoD (Corps of Detectives). If wanted to protect somebody would I have handed over the case?”

“What is the mining lobby? Who is part of it? Mining is not my concern. Environment is,” the Minister said in response to some media reports alleging his proximity to the mining mafia of Bellary.

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