Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde withdraws resignation

Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde withdraws resignation

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New Delhi:  Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde's resignation sent shock waves around Karnataka. He refused requests to change his mind from Home Minister P Chidambaram, Karnataka's Governor, the Congress, the JD(S), advocates, members of the public - and, after a considerable delay, a state BJP delegation. But he is now staying on - thanks to the request of the BJP's LK Advani, a man he describes as a father figure.

The timing of the Lokayukta's resignation, which had dampened the two-year celebration of the BJP government - was seen by some as politically motivated - but the Lokayukta told NDTV that was not the case. He does in fact have a family connection with the party.

"I have no political friends or enemies and I have no affiliation whatsoever, and if at all I must have an affiliation, BJP should know it should be with them because my father was all-India vice president of BJP," said Justice Santosh Hegde.

But it was not just Advani's appeal. The BJP leader's support of this crusader against corruption had a definite impact on the state's BJP government - which had already been facing the heat in the assembly for what the opposition said was its inability to fight corruption. And so the government is finally listening to the Lokayukta's demands.

  • The Lokayukta's report on illegal mining, presented in December 2008, has been largely ignored. Now BJP president Nitin Gadkari has promised the state will take action. The Chief Minister has written to the Prime Minister to stop the export of raw iron ore.
  • The Lokayukta's suo moto powers were withdrawn in the 1980s - Justice Hegde wants that back. He has been assured of immediate steps, and the state's law minister will coordinate with him.
  • The Lokayukta had demanded the filling of the upalokayukta's post which had been vacant for months. 3000 of the 9000 pending cases in the upalokayukta's jurisdiction are ready for settling and only needing a signature. The state government has guaranteed the post will be filled soon.
  • The punishment of an officer investigating an iron ore scam, which the Lokayukta described as the last straw has not only been cancelled, but the Chief Minister has also said the officer will be rewarded.
The Lokayukta has received an overwhelming endorsement of his work - a public outcry that ended with his staying on. The state government will need to take him and his office more seriously. Justice Santosh Hegde has put them on notice. If he has resigned once, he can do so again.

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