Hegde hits back at Lokayukta detractors

Hegde hits back at Lokayukta detractors

He challenged former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who has alleged that  Hegde had been offered a top post at the centre by the Congress-led UPA, to make a full disclosure.

"If there is material why does he not produce it... instead of making oral allegations," Hegde, a Team Anna member who was in the forefront of the agitation demanding a strong Lokpal act, told reporters.

Hegde, whose report on illegal mining led to resignation of Yeddyurappa as Chief Minister, asserted no body can "buy" him. "No political party and industry has the strength to buy me... no one has... not even the media I am saying directly," he said.

On Yeddyurappa's charge that he is "responsible" for sending him to jail, the former Supreme Court judge said, "He is sent to jail on a (land) denotification case on a private complaint. Let him understand. Santosh Hegde had nothing to do with the case in which he had to undergo incarceration."

Hegde has come under renewed attack by BJP and JD-S leaders, particularly Yeddyurappa, former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy (JD-S) and state BJP chief K S Eshwarappa after a former Lokayukta SP, K Madhukar Shetty alleged in a newspaper interview that the Lokayukta was not free from corruption and that there were black sheep in it.

Hegde also expressed surprise that K. Madhukar Shetty, a senior police official who had worked in the Lokayukta's office for over two years was now saying that the institution is full of corrupt people.

Shetty, a 1999 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who was superintendent of police in the Lokayukta, told a Kannada daily in an interview from the United States, that he was relieved to leave the set up because of corruption in it.

Shetty is now on a sabbatical in the US. He went there in July this year, a month ahead of Hegde’s retirement. The Lokayukta head’s term is for five years.

“I am pained by Shetty’s statements. It is surprising,” Hegde said and hinted that the comments were because he did not support Shetty who had differences with his senior, R. K. Datta, an additional director general of police working in the Lokayukta.

Hegde also expressed surprise and regrets over the statement of BJP state president K S Eshwarappa, who had questioned the relevance of Lokayukta following Shetty's allegations and even indirectly favoured its winding up.

Hegde said sarcastically if the allegation of corruption existing in an institution were to be a basis for closing it down, then legislatures, Parliament and judiciary should also be closed down.

While not denying that there is some amount of corruption in the Lokayukta institution, he asserted that it had not come in the way of investigation against the corrupt; nor has it had adverse impact on its functioning and efficiency.

He said Lokayukta institution was sought to be denigrated for "what it has done in the last 10 years" in terms of arresting the corrupt. "They don't want the institution to continue. You give a dog bad name and then kill it. This seems to the principle."

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