New Delhi: In a reprieve for External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, the Supreme Court on Friday stayed the ongoing probe by Karnataka Lokayukta police against him in an alleged illegal mining case during his tenure as Karnataka Chief Minister from 1999-2004.

The Supreme Court said that the probe ordered by the Karnataka High Court was ‘premature’.

The proceedings by the Lokayukta Special Court was initiated on December 8 last on a private complaint against him. According to sources, the Lokayukta report had not indicted Krishna but a private complaint from a city-based social activist and businessman, TJ Abraham, accused Krishna of facilitating illegal mining between 1999 - 2004

Krishan had moved the Supreme Court after the Karnataka High Court on Friday dismissed the petition of Krishna and two others challenging the FIR against them. The High Court had allowed the Lokayukta police to proceed with their investigations into illegal mining charges against Krishna, Janata Dal (Secular) president H D Kumaraswamy, and Congress leader Dharam Singh.

Krishan faces charges under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Forest (Conservation) Act, Karnataka Forest Act, Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act and the Indian Penal Code.

A bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Gyan Sudha Misra passed the order while hearing the petition filed by Krishna challenging the Karnataka High Court decision.

The bench, which issued a notice and sought response within three weeks from Karnataka government and the complainant, on whose plea the FIR was registered. The bench also said that ‘we are all anxious that truth should come out’.

Earlier, Krishna’s counsel K K Venugopal contended the probe against him. He had said, “As per the constitutional rights, the Lokyukta has full right to lodge FIR against him by its own and it doesn’t need any private complainant to file FIR against him.”

He had also argued that it was the Cabinet decision taken by 34 ministers to allow mining in reserved areas and an individual cannot be held responsible for it.
However, Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the complainant J Abraham, opposed Krishna's plea for staying all proceedings.

Bhushan alleged allotment of the mining area in the 11,000 sq km area of dereserved forest was not done on merits.