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'Won’t tolerate attack on my integrity'

india Updated: Apr 22, 2011 23:56 IST
Nagendar Sharma

Justice N Santosh Hegde, the Karnataka lokayukta, had reluctantly agreed to become a member of the joint committee for the drafting of a strong Lokpal Bill. But, in less than a fortnight and only after one meeting of the panel, he is considering to step down. HT spoke to him about what went wrong. Excerpts:

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has already clarified that he holds you in high esteem. Why do you still want to quit?
The gentleman is changing his statements almost everyday. First he said he did not know me. After that he attacked my work as the lokayukta and has now said something else. I do not have the patience to tolerate attacks on my biggest asset — that is my integrity.

Should the matter not be treated as closed now? Why should the anger not subside?
The anger can subside only after the wounds heal. All the five civil society members on the joint drafting committee have been attacked in some form or the other. We do not think it can be a mere coincidence.

In your opinion, should Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant continue in the committee following the controversies surrounding their names?
What is the link between the controversies and the drafting? They have not taken over any position of power. The role of all the members is simply to draft a strong Lokpal Bill. After that, the ball would be in the government’s court.

But Bhushans have been linked to a CD, the Allahabad property dispute and the Noida land allotment case. Does this not weaken the case of your team?
Media reports say the CD is of 2006. May I know why it has surfaced now? Please tell me whether the other so-called disputes came to light after the committee was formed. I feel the timing of the attacks is not natural, it points towards a conspiracy.

There have been questions on how the committee was formed?
I am aware of this. But my point is that this is not something of a constituent assembly. Nobody raised the issue of father and son when they were involved in the drafting of the Janlokpal Bill in the last six months. Then somebody talked about the omission of women and Dalits. This is a committee to draft a Lokpal Bill, let others also be there, but don’t vilify those already working.