Why Many Are Anxious About Lokayukta's Future In Karnataka

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It is more than three months since Justice Bhaskar Rao -- Karnataka Lokayukta whose son had been arrested for allegedly running an extortion racket from Lokayukta offices. (File Photo)


Bengaluru:  It is more than three months since Justice Bhaskar Rao -- Karnataka Lokayukta whose son had been arrested for allegedly running an extortion racket from Lokayukta offices -- had stepped down. Since then, the anti-corruption body, which in the past had taken on anyone -- from former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa to the powerful mining barons of Bellary -- has been headless.

But now, the institution faces another challenge: Monday's announcement of formation of an Anti-Corruption Bureau that will report to the chief minister, a move that many feel will further weaken it.

Justice Santosh Hegde, who was the head of Lokayukta when the institution was at its peak, anticipates what he calls "interference" meant to remove its powers.

"They have passed the Government Order... the Lokayukta police have been taken away from the institution, and a new Anti-Corruption Bureau is created which is not an independent body but has an 8-member committee supervising it," he said. "So we know how the interference will start."

"I have no doubt this executive move is meant to destabilise Lokayukta and remove its powers so they can be saved from their illegal activities," he told NDTV.

The opposition in the state is against the move.

Former law minister, BJP's Suresh Kumar, said: "It is very unfortunate that Siddaramaiah, who was an important person in the government of Ramakrishna Hegde, which came out with this historic legislation creating Lokayukta, is the one causing the end of Lokayukta."

The government is defensive about the decision.

"We have not curtailed the powers of anybody," said law minister TB Jayachandra. "Now both agencies are independent, they have their own powers. We are giving additional staff to them to expedite the pending cases."


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