The Karnataka Lokayukta, which once set a trend by its proactive approach in dealing with corrupt, is an institution without a head from almost a year.
The BJP government seems to be too aware of the fact that the fall of former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa began with the then Lokayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde’s anticorruption zeal.
When D V Sadananda Gowda succeeded Yeddyurappa who had to resign on the charges of misusing his office, there was much expectation in Bangalore that Gowda will move on the appointment of a Lokayukta.
Sources say he was under political pressure to dawdle on the decision: not surprising given the fact that he wasn’t even allowed to reshuffle his cabinet when he was chief minister.
The BJP in its election manifesto, had promised to strengthen the institution of the Lokayuktha. However, the delay and frequent wrangling with Governor H R Bharadwaj has belied these claims.
Bharadwaj, last week , questioned why the job has been lying vacant for a year.
The previous Lokayukta Justice Shivaraj Patil resigned under controversial circumstances on September 14, 2011 followed by the government’s ineffectual attempts to appoint a person who would be agreeable to both the government and the governor.
This has become a bone of contention between Bhardwaj and the ruling BJP government.
The government wants the governor to endorse its candidates for the post. The governor, on the other hand, is on record saying that he wants a blemishless person to head the anti-corruption agency.
The Lokayukta institution had hit the headlines when the then Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde submitted his second and final report on illegal mining indicting the then chief minister Yeddyurappa, the Bellary Reddy brothers and a few high level officials.
After submitting his voluminous report, Justice Hegde retired.
Although, another retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Shivraj Patil was appointed by the government, he had to resign on charges of obtaining a site in violation of norms.
One major hurdle, according to government sources is that most retired judges are reluctant to hold the job, especially after Patil’s resignation.
After the Patil fiasco, the government recommended Justice S R Bannurmath’s name which was rejected by the governor.
Upalokayuktha Chandrashekaraiah had to resign too after the High Court Division Bench headed by Justice N Kumar dismissed his appointment for not following proper procedures.
The state government’s Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court is still pending.
It is using this as an excuse to further delay the appointment of the Lokayukta. Justice delayed is Lokayukta denied.