Lokayukta Term Not Extended: Anti-corruption Drive Hits a Road Bump

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy is back-pedalling on his promise to extend the term of the Lokayukta (the state’s corruption watchdog), which expired on June 30, 2006.

Mr Kumaraswamy said he cannot promise a second term to Justice N Venkatachala, who retired as Lokayukta on Saturday. “It can be done only after amending the rules as there is no provision for extending the term of a Lokayukta now,” he said. The post would be filled soon after consulting the deputy chief minister.

In recent months, the Justice was in the news almost on a weekly basis for raids conducted on residences of state government officials for allegedly engaging in corrupt practices, including demanding and receiving bribes.

News stories unfailingly listed the riches confiscated at these officials’ residences, from crores of rupees of hard cash to obscene amounts of jewelry, and displayed photographs of the items.

Without the benefit of some study and survey, it is hard to tell if the anti-corruption drive under the Lokayukta actually managed to make a dent in the rampant corruption that afflicts state governance. But if the news stories are to be believed, it seems like it did.

Based on that assumption, and assuming that the state leadership does really have intentions of eradicating corruption, should anything, including having to amend rules, come in the way of extending the Lokaykta’s tenure?

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