I got only half of what I wanted: Santosh Hegde

Politicians, legal fraternity say curtailed suo motu powers will not empower Lokayukta

This was reaction of Lokayukta Santosh Hegde over the government’s proposal announced in the Legislative Assembly to amend the law vesting the Lokayukta with power to initiate action against corrupt officials suo motu.

His voice devoid of any emotion, Hegde said, “It looks like the political parties have shown no interest in giving powers to the Lokayukta to take investigate action against the political class. Even those parties which expressed their support over the suo motu powers have not shown any interest,” he said.

“I will show the people of Karnataka that even with these curtailed powers I can perform,” he said.

Hegde said he found himself in a sort of dilemma as was he was not in a position to an issue of it as he had already resigned once and withdrawn (resignation) and it would now "appear ridiculous" in the "eyes of the public" to do so again.

"I do not want to make a drama out of it," he said.

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Siddaramaiah, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly said his party wanted the Chief Minister, ministers and legislators to come under the ambit of Lokayukta investigations, and would assert its stand when the government tabled the amendments to the Act in the House.

Announcing the proposals in the Assembly, Chief Minister Yeddyurappa said a majority of the proposals were made by H D Kumaraswamy when he was the chief minister.
In the last 24 years, no government had taken steps to strenthen the Lokayukta as his government had done. He said he would request the Prime Minister to give effect to the Lokpal Bill.

KPCC President R V Deshpande said his party would not accept the Government’s proposals. “Yeddyurappa is trying to shield himself and his Cabinet colleagues by keeping elected the political class out of the Lokayukta jurisdiction”, he said.

Legal fraternity divided

The legal fraternity is divided over the proposed special powers to Lokayukta.

Former advocate general Uday Holla said the powers to prosecute only the bureaucrats and not elected representatives is “half” responsibility and would not make much difference to the functioning of the Lokayukta. “It is like someone is given powers to cleanse the system, but restricting him from discharging duties.”

Ravi B Naik, senior counsel, said there was no need for the special powers as the power already vests with Lokayukta as per the Supreme Court orders.

“He can initiate criminal proceedings against any person, including the Chief Minister, by placing the records before the Court. Sections 7 and 9 of the Lokayukta Act deal with the powers of Lokayukta,” he said.

Senior Counsel Jayakukar Patil said: “Creating another super powers in the form of Lokayukta is not  right. Corruption needs a nation-wide debate and there will not be much change until the suo motu powers are granted to Lokpal to investigate even the Prime Minister,” he said.

He said the “super” powers to Lokayukta will have political implications as different parties which come to power will take a different view of such powers and will appoint men who are pliable to such a critical job.  

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