Palace gold leafing case: High Court disposes of PIL

Palace gold leafing case: High Court disposes of PIL

Bengaluru: Terming it a “commercial interest litigation,” the Karnataka High Court yesterday disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking directions from the court to order the government to complete the Gold Leafing work at Mysore Palace.

The PIL was filed by K. Basavaraje Urs, a resident of Kuvempunagar in Mysuru and he had sought speedy completion of works as per the proposal made in 2014. The work was being done by artist Ganjifa Raghupathi Bhat, a National Award winner.

Basavaraje Urs had alleged that there was total inaction on the part of the authorities in carrying out the gold leafing work, a project with an estimated cost of Rs. 4.98 crore. He said the work started in 2013 has not been completed due to a ‘false and frivolous’ complaint filed by a private person against Raghupathi Bhat.

In his complaint, one Javaraju had alleged that Raghupathi Bhat colluded with officials to illegally get exemption from the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement

Act 1999 for the gold leafing work. Later, a case was registered against Bhat and a few others under the Prevention of Corruption Act by the Lokayukta Police.

When the matter came up for hearing yesterday, the counsel for the petitioner argued that the gold leafing work was incomplete and should be completed considering the historic importance of the Palace.

The Bench of Acting Chief Justice H.G. Ramesh and Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar observed that public interest litigations have virtually become commercial interest litigations. If the criminal law is set in motion against the artist, he can challenge it before the court. The petitioner can approach the competent authorities for works to be done, the Bench said while disposing  of the petition.

Meanwhile, the government advocate informed the court that the government had tried to persuade the artist to complete the works but he declined saying that he was hurt by the allegations and was not interested.

November 23, 2017

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