It’s letter versus spirit of law in Karnataka (Karnataka Newsletter)January 28th, 2012 - 1:38 pm ICT by IANS
Bangalore, Jan 28 (IANS) Karnataka is caught in a classic case of letter of law versus spirit of law over appointment of a new Lokayukta for four months and an early solution to the issue is not in sight.
The law says the governor appoints the Lokayukta or ombudsman on the recommendation of the government. The government has to suggest the name after consultation among six people - the chief minister, the chief justice of the high court, leaders of the opposition in the assembly and council and the presiding officers of the two houses the legislature.
The law does not give powers to the governor to reject the government recommendation, though this is not expressly stated.
The only option left to the governor in case he or she finds the recommended name not suitable for the post is to persuade the government to come up with another choice. This is what Governor H.R. Bhardwaj has been trying, in public and at closed-door talks with Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, without success.
The post has been vacant since Sep 19 last year when former Supreme Court judge Shivaraj V. Patil quit over a row that he allegedly acquired two plots in Bangalore from two cooperative housing societies violating rules.
Bhardwaj has refused to appoint the Gowda government nominee S.R. Bannurmath, former Kerala high court chief justice, as the new Lokayukta. The ostensible reason is a controversy that Bannurmath has built a house in Bangalore on a plot meant for civic amenities.
The real reason, apparently, is that Bannurmath is a nominee of Gowda’s predecessor B.S. Yeddyurappa, who quit July 31 last year after the then Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde, recommended his trial for corruption in an illegal mining scam.
Since the law does not give any power to the governor to reject, Bhardwaj cannot say so in writing. However, he has been telling the media that he will not appoint Bannurmath whatever be the pressure on him.
On the eve of Republic Day, he made a stunning claim to justify the refusal to accept Bannurmath, saying “a powerful criminal lobby” is proposing his name.
Bhardwaj did not identify the lobby but gave ample indication that he was referring to Yeddyurappa and his supporters in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The new Lokayukta has to take a decision on the Gowda government representation to review Hegde’s report indicting Yeddyurappa.
The Gowda government has accepted the contention of Yeddyurappa that Hegde violated the principles of natural justice and recommended his trial for corruption without hearing him.
Bhardwaj says Gowda is “under pressure from vested interests” to insist on Bannurmath’s appointment.
With Yeddyurappa and his supporters openly lobbying for him to be re-instated as chief minister, Gowda is buying time banking the letter of the law.
Knowing that Bhardwaj cannot say in writing that he is rejecting the government’s recommendation as that will become a constitutional issue, the chief minister has taken the stand that “it is left to the governor to approve the name”.
Bhardwaj and Gowda seem to have agreed to publicly disagree hoping that time will resolve the issue.
As of now it looks like Karnataka, the first state in India to set up a Lokayukta, will not have one till the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections are over in March.
Then the BJP central leadership may find time to rein in Yeddyurappa and his supporters to allow Gowda to pick another name acceptable to Bhardwaj and Karnataka will have a Lokayukta.
(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at email@example.com)
- Bhardwaj rejects BJP government nominee as ombudsman - Feb 06, 2012
- Hazare leads hundreds at 'save ombudsman' rally in Bangalore - Dec 17, 2011
- Karnataka ombudsman row to end soon, says chief minister - Dec 20, 2011
- Bhardwaj slams Karnataka government over new ombudsman - Dec 19, 2011
- No consensus on new Karnataka ombudsman yet - Nov 05, 2011
- Karnataka judge Bannurmath denies governor's charges - Feb 07, 2012
- Bhardwaj pats Gowda, may exacerbate BJP bickering - Jan 04, 2012
- Everybody joins corruption chorus in Karnataka (Karnataka Newsletter) - Nov 19, 2011
- Karnataka government in a fix over illegal mining report - Jan 03, 2012
- Karnataka initiates process for selecting new Lokayukta (Lead) - Feb 07, 2012
- No power to name ombudsman on own, says Bhardwaj - Jan 19, 2012
- Bitter 2012 for Karnataka after scandalous year (Karnataka Newsletter) - Dec 31, 2011
- Hegde rebuts Yeddyurappa's criticism - Nov 16, 2011
- Karnataka assembly rocked over BJP attack on governor - Dec 07, 2011
- Karnataka caught in ugly spectacle over Lokayukta - Nov 14, 2011
Tags: bhardwaj, chief justice, chief minister, civic amenities, classic case, cooperative housing societies, court leaders, former supreme court judge, four months, gowda, jan 28, kerala high court, lokayukta, ombudsman, ostensible reason, predecessor, real reason, recommended name, santosh, supreme court judge