The Karnataka government recommended former High Court Judge, Justice Vishwanath Shetty, to be appointed as the new Lokayukta of the state on Monday.
Justice Vishwanath, who served as a judge in the Karnataka HC from 1999 to 2004, was named by the collegium to the post that has been lying vacant for over a year. The previous Lokayukta, Justice Y Bhaskar Rao, exited the post in December 2015 following allegations of corruption against his son.
According to reports, the collegium headed by the CM comprised of Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court SK Mukherjee, Speaker KB Koliwad, legislative council chairman DH Shankaramurthy, and leaders of the Opposition in both Houses, Jagadish Shettar and KS Eshwarappa.
The recommendation of the collegium will now be sent to Governor Vajubhai Vala for his approval.
It is important to note that the Governor’s nod for the recommendation is not simply a formality. Earlier reports speculating on Justice Vishwanath’s chances of being named by the collegium had stated that there was a possibility the Governor could reject the recommendation.
The Deccan Herald had reported that Justice Vishwanath had submitted a false affidavit to obtain a site at the Judicial Layout, and had speculated that this could be seen as reason for the Governor to reject the former judge’s name for Lokayukta.
As the report pointed out, when Justice SR Nayak – who is now State Law Commission chairman – was twice recommended to the Lokayukta post last year, the Governor is reported to have rejected the government's recommendation for the same reason.
The Karnataka Lokayukta is an autonomous body, that was previously functioning under the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984, and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. However, the state government created the Anti-Corruption Bureau in March last year in order to look into cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
The creation of the ACB was widely criticised, with many anti-corruption crusaders reportedly raising objection to limiting the powers of the Lokayukta. The ACB will investigate cases based on the recommendation of Lokayukta, thereby taking away the autonomous power of the latter to file cases.