BANGALORE: A controversy a day seems to be becoming a norm in Karnataka. The latest row is over Karnataka Chief Justice Vikramjit Sen seeking cancellation of retired judge Chandrashekaraiah's appointment as Upa Lokayukta (deputy ombudsman) as it has been made without consulting him.
Justice Sen says since he was not consulted, the appointment of Chandrashekaraiah (only one name), a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court, violates law and hence it should be annulled.
Chandrashekaraiah was sworn in Jan 22 and Justice Sen wrote to Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda for his "recall" Feb 4. Copies of Justice Sen's confidential letter have started circulating in the media here since late Friday.
The Karnataka Lokayukta Act says the Lokayukta and Upa Lokayutka are appointed by the governor on the advice of the chief minister. The chief minister has to select the name in consultation with the high court chief justice, presiding officers of the state assembly and council and leaders of the opposition in the two houses of the legislature.
Reacting to Justice Sen's demand for his recall, Chandrashekaraiah Saturday told reporters that as far as he is concerned due process of law has been followed in his appointment.
He also ruled out resigning in view of the controversy.
Though Justice Sen wants "recall" of Chandrashekaraiah's appointment, it is not easy to do so as the Lokayukta and Upa Lokayukta can only be removed from office by impeachment by the state legislature.
Law Minister S. Suresh Kumar said the issue will now go before the assembly, which is scheduled to begin its budget session in the second week of March.
"The chief minister forwarded the chief justice's letter to the governor who has sent it back to the chief minister. The issue will now be placed before the assembly," Kumar told reporters in Hassan, 200 km north of Bangalore.
Chandarshekaraiah is also caught in a row like many judges over acquiring a site in the infamous Karnataka Judicial Employees Cooperative House Building Society. He got a house plot from the society though he already owns a house in Bangalore.
The cooperative housing societies law bars people from getting a site from them if they already own a house or a site in that city.
The site row forced former Supreme Court judge Shivaraj V. Patil to quit as Lokayukta in September last year within two months of assuming the office.
A similar controversy was one of the reasons that tripped former Kerala High Court chief justice S. R. Bannurmath from succeeding Patil.
After nearly four months of wrangle between Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and the Bharatiya Janata Party government, Bannurmath last week opted out and now search is on for a new ombudsman.