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Wakfs report: HC summons Principal Secretary in contempt of court case

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday directed the Principal Secretary of the Minority Welfare Department to personally appear before it on October 9 to show cause why the official should not be punished for wilfully disobeying an undertaking given to the court in 2015 for placing before the State legislature a report on encroachment of wakfs properties in the State.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Raghvendra S. Chauhan and Justice B.M. Shyam Prasad issued the direction in a contempt of court petition filed by S.K. Kantha. During earlier hearing on the contempt petition, the government had claimed that the report, submitted by the then chairperson of the Karnataka State Minorities Commission in 2012, had already been placed before the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council during the February 2016 legislature session as per the undertaking given in this regard to the court on September 10, 2015 in a PIL petition.

Later, it came to the court’s notice that the report was not placed before both the Houses of the legislature but the government had “resolved not to accept the recommendations of the special report of the then chairperson of the commission” when a copy of government’s proceedings was submitted to the court.

At that juncture, the government claimed that a review petition has been filed by the government for reviewing the undertaking recorded by the court in 2015. However, the Bench was informed that the review petition is still pending before another bench and the undertaking given in 2015 in a PIL has not been reviewed.

Though the Bench in its August 30, 2018, order itself had observed that it is a prima facie case of contempt of court, it gave an opportunity to the Principal Secretary to comply with the undertaking given in 2015 cautioning the officer of serious action if he failed to adhere to the undertaking.

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