Interview: 'Bold steps needed to clean up Karnataka Lokayukta', says Justice Santosh Hegde
The Karnataka Lokayukta Act has been amended and this paves the way for the ouster of Justice Y Bhaskar Rao, Lokayukta of Karnataka. The opposition BJP in the state of Karnataka has started a signature campaign seeking the ouster of the Lokayukta.
The amended act which was approved by the Governor of Karnataka a few days back makes the process to oust the Lokayukta simpler.
Justice Santhosh Hegde, the former Lokayukta of Karnataka who was also judge of the Supreme Court says that the amendment is a very good move. In this interview with OneIndia, Justice Hegde says that bold steps ought to be taken to cure the Lokayukta which is in disarray today.
What are your thoughts on the amendment to the Karnataka Lokayukta Act?
I think it is a very good move. It brings about some amount of accountability. The provision to impeach judges has always been a failure. Ever since India's independence, the procedure to impeach a judge has been difficult and more or less been a failure.
With the amended provision, three sitting judges will also look into corruption allegations against the Lokayukta. I just hope that this process would not drag on forever and the amended act will make the process of impeachment quicker.
The Lokayukta of Karantaka today is in disarray. Files are accumulating and the pendency of cases has shot up. What are your thoughts on this?
Basically the Lokayukta himself is not present. He is on extended leave and it appears he has not delegated the work to anyone else. This is leading to the pendency and files accumulating. Ideally the Upa-Lokayukta should have looked into these cases, but in the absence of any authorization cases are pending and work has come to a virtual standstill.
I even get to hear that the administrative work has not been delegated. This is creating problems and also adding to the existing mess. It is a total breakdown and failure of the system.
It may sound silly, but is shutting down the Lokayukta a better option today?
Yes, it does sound silly, when you ask me this. The intention should be to cure the defect and the problem. Shutting down an institution due to corruption allegations against a few is not the solution. Think about all those people who depend on the Lokayukta.
That appears to be the problem. None are acting in the right direction. Do you agree?
Inspite of all the allegations, there still seems to be a delay in acting. The collegium of the High Court judges must have a say in the appointment of the Lokayukta. In the case of the existing Lokayukta there was an opinion against the appointment. But I hear that the Chief Minister took a final call on the matter.
Another point I would like to make out here is that if there are rumours of corruption one needs to act immediately upon it by thoroughly investigating into the matter. Do not let issues prolong forever, it never does any good.
Are you saying that the institution was corruption free when you were the Lokayukta?
No that is not what I am saying and neither am I trying to indicate that the institution was corruption free. The difference however was that I ensured that in cases of allegations of corruption action was taken. I didn't let corruption allegations to prolong or drag on.
There is still time and in the interest of the people the institution must be brought back into shape. It is not the end of the road at all and I believe that the problem can be solved. One needs to take bold decisions and ensure that the cure is effected.