Monday, September 19, 2011

Karnataka Lokayukta Shivraj Patil resigns

Barely two months after he was appointed Lokayukta of Karnataka, Justice Shivraj Patil on Monday resigned after a controversy erupted over allotment of housing sites for him and his wife allegedly in violation of rules.

The 71-year-old former Supreme Court judge, who was made Karnataka’s ombudsman on August 3 succeeding Santosh Hegde, called on Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and submitted the papers.

Stung by the the allegations against him, Mr. Patil announced his resignation at a news conference after describing the campaign against him as “malicious“.

“This malicious campaign has deeply hurt and pained me. In this uncongenial atmosphere I have deemed it appropriate to submit my resignation,” he said.

Mr. Patil, whose office is required to investigate land scams some of which involve high-profile politicians, himself faced allegations that he and his wife own three plots of land in Bangalore in violation of city bylaws. The politicians included former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who lost his job after Mr. Hegde indicted him in connection with illegal mining in the State.

The allegations raised questions about the Lokayukta’s moral authority to continue as the anti-graft watchdog.

Stating that a “malicious campaign” had been carried out in the past few days against him, he said “shockingly instead of treating surrender of the site a step in the right direction, it was treated and campaigned as if it is an acceptance of the mistake and grave crime has been committed“.

Mr. Patil faced allegations of violating rules by securing the allotment of a 9,600-sq-ft site at the Judicial Employees Layout in 1994 and his wife a 4,200-sq-ft site at Nagavara from the Vyalikaval Housing Cooperative Society. His wife had surrendered the site on September 14 after the issue surfaced.

He had defended his action saying his wife Annapoorna had purchased the site through “outright sale” and that she was not an allottee as member of the Society.

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