A Lokayukta should be like Caesar's wife. Not only should they be above suspicion, but also appear to be so. On both accounts, Justice Shivaraj Vir Patil has failed. And with his reputation already dented, his resignation was around the corner. Barely seven weeks ago, former Karnataka CM B S Yeddyurappa appointed Patil, a fellow Lingayat, to take over from Justice Santosh Hegde.
After the 2G telecom scam crow-barred its way into the country's headlines, Justice Patil served as a one-man committee appointed to study the procedures followed by the Department of Telecommunications in distributing licences and spectrum between 2001 and 2009. Patil took charge at a time when the Lokayukta was in the limelight. There was an all-time high media glare as Santosh Hegde had demitted office merely hours after submitting his report on the illegal mining in Bellary.
Questions of Patil being a fellow Lingayat, as Yeddyurappa is, surfaced. These were quelled by the former CM who appointed a second Upa-Lokayukta (a Brahmin) because the existing Upa-Lokayukta was a Lingayat too. So from having no Upa-Lokayukta (despite Justice Hegde pressing for one) for over a year, Karnataka now has two. Many in India today find themselves in the same soup that Caesar's wife, Pompeia, was in 2000 years ago. Charges are flying thick over their personal integrity. And it is a serious matter. This time the charges have those from the Supreme and High Courts facing the heat. It is these judges who are being put under the scanner.
Justice Patil has been accused of violating Sec 10 (a) of the model bye-law, framed for House Building Cooperative Societies, which bars any member -- or their family -- who has been allotted a site by a society from getting another in the name of a family member. Just like Yeddurappa, Justice Patil's wife too has surrendered the plot. But a thief is a thief. By merely giving up the steal, can one seek pardon? If such acts are at all pardonable, then people of this country will certainly lose faith in its institutions, governance, Lokpal etc. As Caesar did.