Making stinging observations on a PIL seeking speedy appointment of the anti-corruption ombudsman, lying vacant for 10 months, the court issued notice returnable in a week to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, who assumed office only last week.
In a stern warning to Karnataka government if it failed to respond positively, a division bench headed by Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen said, "We will write to the Governor saying there is a Constitutional crisis in the state...if this continues, the government will be in trouble." The court also expressed its displeasure over a statement made by Law Minister Suresh Kumar that the government was awaiting the Supreme Court's decision on the issue. The bench sought to know as to why the government was linking the two as the matter before the apex court was that of the appointment of the Upalokayukta. The court adjourned the matter to Jul 23.
The post of Lokayukta has remained vacant since Sept 19 last year after former Supreme Court Judge Shivaraj Patil, who succeeded high-profile Santosh Hegde, quit in the wake of allegations of getting land allotment in violation of rules. After Patil's exit, the BJP government recommended the name of former Kerala High Court Chief Justice SR Bannurmath but Governor HR Bhardwaj refused to accept it insisting on a "spotless candidate".
As the three-month-long standoff continued, Bannurmath himself opted out of the post in Feb last, saying he was hurt by the allegations relating to land allotment.