Hegde to decide Saturday on his continuing in Lok Pal panel


Bangalore/New Delhi: Karnataka Lokayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde will decide Saturday on his continuation in the Lok Pal bill draft panel in view of Congress leaders questioning his success in curbing corruption in Karnataka.

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Hegde’s decision will impact the fate of two other civil society members, leading lawyers Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant, in the 10-member panel.

The panel has five civil society representatives and five central ministers.

All the five civil society members of the panel – the other two being Gandhian Anna Hazare and social activist Arvind Kejriwal – are facing flak, mainly from Congress, over one or the other issue, casting doubts either on their integrity or claims to success.

The worst-hit are the two Bhushans, first over a controversial CD that claims the father-son duo can fix judges, and the second over getting prime land in Noida, abutting New Delhi, at below market price.

The Bhushans have not talked about quitting the panel but Hegde has said he was thinking of leaving it following Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh’s attack on him.

There is pressure on the Bhushans to quit while Hegde is under pressure from scores of Bangaloreans, including Congress and Janata Dal-Secular leaders, and from leading lights of the anti-graft movement to ignore Singh’s sarcastic comments and stay on in the panel.

Hegde, a retired judge of the Supreme Court whose term as Karnataka Lokayukta ends August this year, has said he would consult other civil society representatives on the panel in New Delhi Saturday and announce his final decision.