Karnataka govt withdraws Lokayukta Bill bowing to Opposition pressure

Bowing to Opposition pressure in the Assembly, government Tuesday withdrew a bill proposing certain amendments to the Lokayukta Act and agreed to come out with comprehensive changes in light of the raging row over an alleged bribery scandal linked to the anti-graft ombudsman.

Belagavi: Bowing to Opposition pressure in the Assembly, government Tuesday withdrew a bill proposing certain amendments to the Lokayukta Act and agreed to come out with comprehensive changes in light of the raging row over an alleged bribery scandal linked to the anti-graft ombudsman.

As Law Minister Jayachandra sought to initiate discussion on Karnataka Lokayutka (Amendment) Bill 2015, the opposition BJP and JDS objected to it and demanded comprehensive amendments to the Act in the backdrop of the controversy now.

"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.

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.

Intervening later, 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 a notice was sent to him regarding Arkavathy layout (in Bengaluru) denotification issue on someone's complaint and he has responded to it.

Siddaramaiah said "false allegations are being made with a political motive.. It is a political conspiracy."

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