Governors' dissent is blessing in disguise?

Published: 07 November, 2011 06:52 IST | B V Shiva Shankar |

Bannurmath's name remains uncleared even 10 days after it was sent to Bhardwaj for Lokayukta post, BJP sources say situation suits party's present needs nicely

Bannurmath's name remains uncleared even 10 days after it was sent to Bhardwaj for Lokayukta post, BJP sources say situation suits party's present needs nicely

The Lokayukta post continues to remain vacant and the Governor is reportedly adamant on not clearing Justice S R Bannurmath's name for the post.

It has been 10 days since the government sent his name to H R Bhardwaj, but the Raj Bhavan has not responded. Sources in the BJP claim that the is unlikely to press further because the situation suits the party just fine.

Rulebook says a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge is
eligible for the post of Lokayukta, but a few available candidates,
including  favourites like Justice S R Bannurmathare, lack clean image

Although the Governor cannot reject the recommendation, Bhardwaj had expressed his reservations in the wake of media reports exposing Bannurmath for availing a plot from a fraudulent cooperative housing society. Following this, Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda met Bhardwaj, but the consensus remains elusive.

"The ball is in the Governor's court and I can say something only after I get information from the Raj Bhavan," Sadananda said.

Lingayat card
Bannurmath is a Lingayat and a hand-picked choice of community leader and jailed former CM B S Yeddyurappa and Sadananda is reportedly unable to go against the recommendation.

At the same time, he is not prepared to take the blame for placing a tainted candidate in significant position such as the Lokayukta.
He believes its best to maintain a statuesque and Yeddyurappa would have no qualms as Upa-Lokayukta Justice S B Majjagi, who is in-charge in the absence of the Lokayukta, is also a Lingayat and the former CM's choice.

Interestingly, the Governor's reservations came to the CM orally and cannot be considered as an official communication.

"If the Governor had sent his opinion officially, then the government would have to reply. But, with no official communication, it can put the blame for the delay on the Governor and simply let things continue as they are," said a BJP leader.

The Lokayukta post fell vacant after Justice V Shivaraj Patil stepped down owing to the media reports on him illegally availing sites from house building cooperative societies.
Also, Bannurmath was also found to be committing similar irregularities and this paper carried a special report on it, following which the government came under pressure.

Taking note of the reports, Bhardwaj is understood to have told Sadananda that it would be improper to clear Bannurmath's name for the post. He has also reportedly suggested some alternative names, which the government is not comfortable with.

"I cannot reject the government's recommendation, but can advise on the issue. I have a list of eligible candidates and have brought it to the notice of the CM," Bhardwaj had told reporters recently. While not much is known about the Governor's choice, Justice N K Sodi is said to be among those on his list.

However, a source said the government was facing difficulties in finding a candidate without any allegation and Sodi was not an exception. "The situation is precarious since all eligible candidates are linked to some controversy, including land scam. Even some  in the Governor's list are in similar situations," said the source.

As per the rules, a retired Supreme Court judge or a retired High Court judge is eligible to be the Lokayukta, but clean names among the few available candidates are lacking.
According to A T Ramaswamy, who headed a committee on land encroachment, more than 36 judges - both sitting and retired - have availed sites from the Judicial Employees House Building Co-operative Society that is allegedly fraudulent. It is not clear how many of them are in the Governor's list.

Regarding Bhardwaj's list, Sadananda Gowda said, "I cannot disclose details of the talks I held with the Governor and please don't ask about this."

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