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Aug 04, 2006 at 12:21pm IST

Karnataka Lokayukta to set example

Bangalore: Former Supreme Court Justice Santosh Hegde has taken over as Karnataka's new Lokayukta.

He faces a tough challenge in a state, where even the Chief Minister is grappling with corruption charges.

'Set an example' - that was the mantra Justice Santosh Hegde had in mind as he took over as Karnataka's new Lokayukta.

The Lokayukta is an authority, which enforces ethics and accountability in public offices.

On his first day, he has decided to declare his assets on his official website. Hegde says Ministers and bureaucrats should follow suit.

"Bureaucrats and MLAs have to file this under election commission rules, that's a major source of information on who's made money and who's not," says Lokayukta Santosh Hegde.

But in a state, which ranks the fourth in corruption, setting an example may not be enough.

The change of guard at the Lokayukta has come just as the Kumarswamy government turns six months old. And it's at a time when the Chief Minister himself faces serious allegations of corruption. So obviously the Lokayukta has his task cut out.

And it wont be easy, Hegde says the Lokayukta's office is like a toothless tiger, since it has authority to only investigate and not prosecute corrupt officials.

"If you give us prosecuting power and our own prosecutor and our own court, we can take this to a logical conclusion. What we investigate, permit us to prosecute," said Hegde.

Justice Hegde succeeds a man who lived by a tough reputation. The firebrand Justice N Venkatachala was known for his sudden raids on several government officers where he unearthed illegal wealth worth crores.

But he was not able to book them, because the office of lokayukta doesn't have the power to do that. Hegde hopes to change this in his tenure.

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