After a gap of 17 months, Karnataka has a Lokayukta or ombudsman to investigate charges of corruption against elected officials. Y Bhaskar Rao, who retired as chief justice of the Karnataka High Court, took office today and said he would like the public to email complaints to him. Not just yet, though. His office says it will share his email address later.
In 2011, then chief minister BS Yeddyurappa had to quit after the Lokayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde, indicted him for corruption in a report on illegal mining. Justice Hegde was succeeded by Shivraj Patil, a former Supreme Court judge, who had to resign one month after being appointed Lokayukta over allegations that his wife and he owned land in violation of city rules.
Within hours of Justice Rao being sworn in today, a group of lawyers said they are opposed to his appointment because of allegations that rules were bent to give him two residential plots in Bangalore. The opposition is unhappy because the 75-year-old Lokayukta is from Andhra Pradesh.
Apart from those notes of dissent, Justice Rao will have his hands full. There are 4,500 complaints that need to be screened and assigned for investigation.
In 2011, the state president of the BJP and Deputy Chief Minister of the state, KS Eeshwarappa, shocked the city when he said the institution of the Lokayukta should be scrapped.