He is the first Lokayukta to have quit on his own

The sixth Lokayukta of Karnataka, Shivaraj V. Patil, who took charge of office just over a month ago, has resigned to put to rest the controversy over his acquisition of more than one house site reportedly in violation of law which gained momentum over the last few days.

He is the first Lokayukta of Karnataka to have resigned on his own volition arising out of what he has termed “the uncongenial atmosphere that has been created”. Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, with whom Mr. Patil had a meeting, is yet to accept his resignation. Mr. Shivaraj Patil was selected as successor to N. Santosh Hegde given his credentials and the choice by the selection panel comprising the then Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, the Opposition leaders and the presiding officers of the two Houses of the Legislature.

Headed panel on 2G

Prior to his appointment, he was the one-man commission which inquired into the 2G scam and also the acting chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.

In July 2010, a year ahead of his term coming to an end, Mr. Santosh Hegde submitted his resignation in protest over lack of powers and thereafter, withdrew it on the request of top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party — L.K. Advani and Nitin Gadkari — much to the pleasure of then Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.

It is another matter that the report of Mr. Santosh Hegde on iron ore mining resulted in Mr. Yeddyurappa resigning as the Chief Minister.

Creation of institution

Karnataka is one of the foremost States in the country which has complied with the creation of the institution of Lokayukta, and also strengthening it. The first of the Lokayuktas of the State (1986) was A.D. Kaushal, a former Judge of the Supreme Court.

He was succeeded by Rabindranath Pyne in 1991, Abdul Hakim (a former Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court) in 1996, N. Venkatachala in 2001 and Mr. Santosh Hegde in 2006.

It should be noted that while a Lokayukta enjoys a five-year term in office, his removal can only be on the same lines (mutatis mutandis) as per the provisions prescribed under the Judges (Inquiry) Act — or in common parlance impeachment proceedings.

The Lokayukta cannot be removed from his office except by an order of the Governor passed after an address by each House of the State Legislature supported by a majority of the total membership of the House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting and has been presented to the Governor in the same session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. 

However, the Lokayukta may, by writing under his hand addressed to the Governor, resign from his office and this is what Mr. Shivaraj Patil chose to do on Monday.