Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and his former industries minister Murugesh Nirani on Wednesday were granted protection from arrest by the Supreme Court, which took up their petition against the revival of a criminal case against them.
The court, however, refused to override an order by the Karnataka High Court which had allowed the case to be restored earlier this month that accused them of not honouring a commitment to grant 26 acres to a private investor in 2011. The court issued a notice to the complainant as well.
Hearing the petition by Mr Yediyurappa, Chief Justice SA Bobde remarked, "You are a sitting Chief Minister. Who will issue a warrant against you? At most, they can issue a request for you."
However, former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi representing the BJP leader, said the restoration of the case left the possibility of an arrest warrant on the table.
In a twin blow for Mr Yediyurappa, the Karnataka High Court on January 6 restored a complaint alleging forgery over the withdrawal of approval for the plot of land and refused to quash an FIR filed against him in an "illegal" land de-notification case of 2015.
The court allowed in part a petition by an investor Alam Pasha and set aside the August 26, 2016 order of an additional city civil and sessions judge related to three of the four accused, including Mr Yediyurappa.
The case involved charges of criminal conspiracy and forgery of documents purported to have been issued by Alam Pasha in 2012 when Mr Yediyurappa was the chief minister in his first term.
Besides Mr Yediyurappa and Murugesh Nirani, former principal secretary V P Baligar and former managing director of Karnataka Udyog Mitra Shivaswamy K are the other accused.
They have been accused of committing forgery of documents purported to have been issued by her seeking to withdraw the approval granted for allotment of 26 acres of land at Devanahalli Industrial Area in Bengaluru Rural District.
(With inputs from PTI)