Belagavi: Oppn forces govt to withdraw Lokayukta Bill, agree to amend law
Belagavi, Jul 7: Forcing the State Government to withdraw its Karnataka Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill 2015, the combined opposition also wrested a major demand for bringing a comprehensive amendment to the law governing the anti-corruption ombudsman, including a provision for the removal of Lokayukta.
The BJP and JD(S) opposition members, who were united in their opposition to the Karnataka Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill 2015, aimed at ensuring submission of consolidated report on the performance of the agency to the State Governor before October 31 every year, when the bill was taken up for consideration the State Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
The State Government faced embarrassment when it had to concede the opposition demand to agree on bringing out a comprehensive amendment bill to the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984, to regulate the functioning of the anti-corruption agency, including removal of the Lokayukta.
Karnataka’s Law and Parliamentary Affair Minister T B Jayachandra told the Legislative Assembly that a comprehensive bill would be introduced in a week’s time, when the legislature meets in Bengaluru.
“Keeping in mind the opinion expressed by most members for a comprehensive amendment, I’m not pressing the bill. During the session in Bengaluru next week I will bring comprehensive amendment bill. I’m taking back this bill,” he said.
Amidst noisy scenes, Leader of the Opposition Jagadish Shettar, who welcomed the decision, criticised the State Government for the delayed announcement.
“The Chief Minister and the Government are protecting the Lokayukta. There is some understanding between the two,” Shettar alleged.
Allegations by Shettar against the government led to heated exchange of words between both the treasury and opposition benches.
The ruling Congress party members, who stood on their feet, shouted at the BJP leader and termed his allegations totally baseless. Jayachandra said, “Government is not supporting or protecting anyone.”
Intervening, JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy alleged that Lokayukta office was being misused by the government to target the opposition, pointing at FIR’s being filed against him and former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa. Shettar said “Government is looking at the opposition with vindictive nature, we will face it.”
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said they had no intention to protect anyone and the allegation about protecting the Lokayukta is a ‘political conspiracy’.
“We have no intention to protect anyone, we will not protect anyone. We work as per law,” Siddaramaiah said.
He said government cannot suo moto hand over the case to CBI as per Lokayukta Act, as it is an autonomous body.
“Lokayukta had specifically asked for SIT probe headed by an officer above the rank of ADGP. So SIT was formed and investigation was handed over to it,” he added.
Hitting out at the Opposition for alleging that he was trying to protect Rao as there are cases against him before Lokayukta, Siddaramaiah said “…it is baseless that I’m trying to protect Lokayukta seeking gain,” he said.
The bill making it mandatory for the anti-corruption watchdog to submit annual performance report by October end every year was introduced last week before the alleged bribery racket in Lokayukta office became a full-blown controversy.
Karnataka Lokayukta Bhaskar Rao is in the eye of a storm over allegations that his son was linked to the extortion racket, with the Opposition demanding his resignation and a CBI probe into the issue. Rao has dismissed the charges, saying he would quit if they were proved.