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Hit by housing row, Karnataka Lokayukta quits

Monday September 19, 2011 07:22:52 PM, IANS

Bangalore: Facing allegations of violating cooperative housing society laws to own two sites in Bangalore, Karnataka Lokayukta Shivaraj Virupanna Patil quit Monday, becoming the state's first ombudsman to leave office amid a row.

A retired judge of the Supreme Court, Patil took over Aug 3 from another former apex court judge N. Santosh Hegde, whose explosive report on illegal mining scam resulted in the fall of the south India's first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, led by B.S. Yeddyurappa, July 31.

Patil submitted his resignation to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj in view of the controversy, though he said his wife would surrender the plot the couple had bought in her name.

A Raj Bhavan spokesperson told IANS, "Justice Patil met the governor and has given a letter. We are yet to hear from the governor".

Patil had earlier denied any wrong-doing in buying a 4,012 sq feet plot in his wife Annapurna's name from Vyalikaval House Building Cooperative Society (VHBCS) near Nagavara on Bangalore's outskirts in 2006.

This plot was bought even though Patil owned a house in Bangalore. He got in 1994 a 9,600 sq ft site from the Karnataka State Judicial Department Employees' House Building Cooperative Society at Allasandra in another part of Bangalore's outskirts.

The cooperative housing society rules state that people who own a plot or a house in a city are not eligible to get another plot from a housing society as the plots are sold at prices much lower than in the market for the members of the society.

Patil's contention is that his wife was not allotted a plot by the Vyalikaval Society and it was bought in an auction.

Patil is the sixth Karnataka Lokayukta, the anti-graft institution that was set up in 1986, making Karnataka the first state do so.

Earlier, Patil had been appointed by Communications Minister Kapil Sibal as on-man panel to probe the telecom policies and procedures followed during 2001-2009, including during the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime, and assess whether they were followed in a transparent manner.

Patil submitted his report Jan 31.

The first Karnataka Lokayukta was A.D. Koshal, a retired judge of the Supreme Court.

However, it was during the tenure of the fourth Lokayukta N. Venkatachala (2001-2006) that the ombudsman became highly active with frequent raids on government offices across the state to detect graft.

Hegde carried on Venkatachala's work and topped his five-year tenure, that ended Aug 2 this year, with a report on massive illegal mining scam in the state leading to the fall of the Yeddyurappa government.





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