Chandrashekaraiah appointed second Upa Lokayuta

He too owns site in Judicial Layout

Chandrashekaraiah appointed second Upa Lokayuta

The State government sprang a surprise on Saturday, announcing the name of Justice (retd) Chandrashekaraiah as the second Upa Lokayukta. He will be sworn in on Sunday morning at the Raj Bhavan.

Justice Chandrashekaraiah will be stepping into the slot vacated by Justice Gururajan who resigned from his post on October 12, 2011 citing health reasons.

The appointment comes at a time when the government is in a protracted battle with the Governor over the appointment of Justice S R Bannurmath as the Lokayukta. Contradicting his own position, the Governor has approved the name of Justice Chandrashekaraiah, despite him owning a 4,000 sq ft site in Judicial Layout.

“This has nothing to do with that. The High Court had dismissed the case and the Supreme Court had upheld it. What is the point in raking all this up?” Justice Chandrashekaraiah told Deccan Herald. “I will work in accordance with the law. I want to perform my duties to the best of my ability and to the satisfaction of the public,” he maintained.

Justice Chandrashekaraiah owns a plot measuring 4,000 sq ft at Allasandra (Site No 1296/11) at the now infamous Judicial Layout formed by the Karnataka State Judicial Department Employees’ House Building Co-operative Society Limited. This was purchased on January 18, 1997, for Rs 1,02,666, while he was still a sitting judge of the Karnataka High Court. The current guidance value of the property is Rs one crore, while the market value of the property is estimated at Rs 1.6 crore.

The site is part of the CA site against which the Judicial Layout Residents’ Welfare Association has filed a case disputing the allotment.

Justice S R Bannurmath also owns a site in Judicial Layout and this is one of the reasons why the Governor is against his appointment as Lokayukta. The government’s choice of Justice Bannurmath has not gone down well with the Governor, who has insisted that the government come up with a candidate who has a clean record. Bannurmath is the owner of a plot measuring 6,600 sq ft.

The purchase of the sites by judges has been questioned on legal grounds as the Cooperative Society rules require one to be an employee of the State Government’s Judicial Department, as otherwise it would constitute a violation of the Karnataka Co-operative Society Act, 1959, and the model bye-laws for house building co-operative societies.

Legal experts have pointed out that on the basis of Article 124 (2) and 217 of the Constitution, Supreme Court and High Court judges are appointed by the President by warrant under his seal and, therefore, are not employees of any particular State government’s judicial department.

While judges cite the Supreme Court ruling which upheld the dismissal of the case challenging the owning of sites by the judges, related matters which might bear implication on that ruling are still pending in the courts.

Majority choice

Official sources said a majority of the members of the committee to select a person for the post of Upa Lokayukta had recommended Justice Chandrashekaraiah's name. The committee comprises the chief minister, the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, leaders of the Opposition in both Houses of the State Legislature, the Assembly Speaker and the Council Chairman.

Chandrashekaraiah belongs to the Vokkaliga community, while the other Upa Lokayukta S B Majage belongs to the Lingayat community.

Appointments to the posts of Lokayukta and Upa Lokayuktas have been mired in controversy ever since Justice Shivraj Patil stepped down on September 19, 2011, after it was revealed that he owned multiple sites in violation of rules. Less than a month later, Justice Gururajan also resigned, leaving the other Upa Lokayukta S B Majage holding the fort. Majage also owns a site in the Allasandra Judicial Layout, which was purchased when he was the District Sessions Judge in 1994.

Justice Chandrashekaraiah has served as the Judge of the Karnataka High Court from December 1995 to May 2004. He was later appointed the President of the Karnataka State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, where he served from 2004 to 2009.

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