Karnataka initiates process for selecting new Lokayukta (Lead)

February 7th, 2012 - 10:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bangalore, Feb 7 (IANS) The Karnataka government Tuesday initiated the process of selecting another retired judge for the state Lokayukta (ombudsman) post, a day after Governor H.R. Bhardwaj rejected its recommendation to appoint Justice (retired) S.R. Bannurmath.

“I have initiated discussions with the concerned to select another retired judge for the Lokayukta post and recommend to the governor for appointment at the earliest,” Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda told reporters hours after Bannurmath slammed Bhardwaj for levelling charges against him to deny the quasi-judicial post.

According to the rules, the state government will have to short list three candidates for the post and select one of them in consultations with Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and the two opposition leaders in the state legislature — Siddaramaiah and Motamma of the Congress.

“I am aware that there has been a considerable delay in appointing the Lokayukta for unavoidable reasons. With governor rejecting Bannurmath, who also wrote to me Monday opting out of the race for the post, we are earnest on getting a new ombudsman soon,” Gowda said.

Earlier in the day, Bannurmath denied all charges levelled against him by the governor and in a section of the media on owning an additional housing site in the city against norms.

“I would like to state that no adverse strictures have been passed by the Supreme Court in any of the cases decided on me. Basic principles of natural justice and fairness require the basis on which these allegations are made known to me, to enable me to meet them fairly,” an anguished Bannurmath said.

Declining to take any question, the former chief justice of the Kerala High Court said that all malicious statements attributed to him as being corrupt and characterless in the media when the government was considering him for the head of the anti-graft institution were baseless and false.

“The allegation that the site allotted to me in the judicial layout is illegal on the ground that I own another property is false as I solemnly state that I do not own any other property in the city,” Bannurmath asserted.

The governor in a communique late Monday said he had formally rejected the advice of the chief minister.

Bhardwaj’s action follows Bannurmath deciding to opt out in view of a row that he is the nominee of scam-hit former chief minister B. S. Yeddyurappa besides allegations of building a house in Bangalore on a plot meant for civic amenities.

In a letter to the chief minister late Monday, the retired judge requested Gowda not to insist on his appointment as the Lokayukta.

The post has been vacant since September 19, 2011 following resignation of former Supreme Court judge Shivaraj V. Patil in light of a controversy that he had acquired two house sites in Bangalore from housing societies in violation of rules.

The state government recommended Bannurmath for the anti-graft institute October 27.

Since then, Bhardwaj on one side and Gowda and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the other have been publicly sparring over the governor’s refusal to appoint Bannurmath.

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