The Karnataka cabinet on Friday decided to empower the Lokayukta to launch suo motu investigations against corrupt officials up to the level of chief secretary and principal secretary of the state.
The decision was taken after Lokayukta Justice (Retired) Santosh Hegde recently withdrew his resignation on the request of BJP leader L.K. Advani.
Hegde had put in his papers on June 23, expressing helplessness in the face of what he described as non-cooperation from the state’s BJP government headed by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
While extending the new powers to Hegde, the state cabinet denied him any right to initiate suo motu probes against the state’s ministers, legislators, parliamentarians and government-nominated appointees in boards and corporations.
In his resignation, Hegde had said the state government was indifferent towards his functioning and observed that unlike Lokayuktas in other states, he had not been given suo motu powers to launch investigations.
The powers of the Lokayukta, to initiate a probe against corrupt officials without waiting for a complaint were taken away by the state in 1986.
The decision to give Hegde suo motu powers came at a time when the assembly was debating the issue of illegal mining in Bellary.