Hegde reconsidering decision to be on Lokpal Bill panel

Bangalore: Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde on Thursday said he was reconsidering his decision to be on the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill, apparently upset over the "vilification campaign" against the anti-graft panel.

“I will be first discussing the issue with my colleagues and will take a decision based on it”, Mr. Hegde, who had reluctantly agreed to be on the Lokpal committee due to pending work, told PTI.

The former Supreme Court Judge, known for his vigorous campaign against corruption, said the current vilification campaign had put him off.

“Everything stinks,” he said referring to “the manner in which the vilification campaign first went against (Anna) Hazare, then against Bhushans (Shanti and son Prasant).”

Mr. Hegde, who is due to retire in August as Lokayukta, said, “The anti-corruption crusade has unnerved some sections. Nobody expected Hazare to get the response he did,” he said.

“There is no doubt there is an attempt to derail the anti-corruption crusade,” Mr. Hegde, whose name was initially suggested along with that of former Supreme Court Chief Justice J S Verma to be the panel head by Hazare, said.

Responding to allegations that he was only taking action against others and not against Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who is facing allegations of corruption, he said, “There is no one who has fought Mr. Yeddyurappa, the way I have. My hands are tied, yet I have taken action, issued notices, sought explanation.”

“If I was not interested, I would have transferred the case to the commission,” he said. The government has set up a commission of inquiry to probe alleged land scams involving Mr. Yeddyurappa and his family.

Asked about his opinion on the Bhushans continuing to be on the panel in the wake of allegations against them and the CD controversy, he said, “I leave it to them.”

He said there were two opinions about the genuineness of the CD, “hence it was difficult to comment.”

He also wondered as to why the controversial CD was not brought to public notice before.

“What is the point of time this controversy has actually taken place and the time when this has been released to the press? What is the objective of this?”, he asked.