Ending his five-year eventful term as Lokayukta of Karnataka, justice N Santosh Hegde on Tuesday termed corruption as “one of the most serious challenges” ever faced by the country and described his tenure a mixed bag of bouquets and brickbats.
Justice Hegde, 71, whose explosive report on illegal mining in the state cost BS Yeddyurappa the chief minister's chair, said the political class was not serious in eradicating corruption.
Justice Hegde, who was also part of the Anna Hazare's team on the joint drafting panel for the lokpal bill, strongly defended the referendum conducted by Team Hazare.
“There was no other option for those fighting for a strong lokpal bill. The government was not ready to listen, therefore, the only way was to go back to the people,” he told HT.
Asked how credible could such an exercise would be in which the civil society activists themselves distributed forms and declared results, justice Hegde shot back : “By that standard, all surveys conducted by the government should also be doubted, since it does everything itself.”
The former Supreme Court judge blamed the government for its “confrontationist approach” with the civil society activists on the lokpal bill.
Asked whether he agreed with Hazare's decision to go on an indefinite fast from August 16, he said: “What else is left? When you don't have any other way out and the government is using all its might to show you down.”
He slammed the government's lokpal bill, terming it "toothless and ineffective, which will have no powers to deal with corruption".
“If the CAG report on 2G is true.....Rs 1,76,000 crore...what will happen to this country? The entire financial growth will drown in corruption,” he said.
On his illegal mining report, Justice Hegde said the strong reactions showed “it had hit at the right place”.
Asked about the effectiveness of institutions like the Lokayukta, he replied: “It may not have eradicated corruption completely, but has certainly acted as a strong deterrent, which should be now given more powers.”
Justice Hegde has not yet decided what to do next, but made it clear that he would continue to be a part of anti-corruption movements.
“I would be there to support Anna Hazare.”