BENGALURU: THE fight against corruption seems to have taken a beating as the state government is sitting on the proposal sent by the Lokayukta for sanction of nine posts of additional judicial officers of district judge cadre to conduct inquiries into the huge number of pending cases. Despite the Lokayukta sending a reminder every fortnight, the government has ignored the requests for eight months. If the situation persists, it will take around six years to clear the existing pending cases, sources in the Lokayukta said. Making matters worse, 17 of the 23 sanctioned posts of SPs, 18 posts of 43 DySPs and 12 posts of the sanctioned 90 police inspectors are vacant in the Lokayukta police wing.
In Bengaluru alone, five posts of SP are vacant. This has seriously affected inquiry and investigation into cases of maladministration and corruption. The posts of SPs and DySPs are key as they play a vital role in monitoring and investigating the cases. The shortage of manpower has become a huge challenge for the institution, a judicial officer in Lokayukta said. “Presently, each judicial officer is able to handle only about 50 inquiries a month whereas there are 90-100 fresh cases which need to be inquired into. If there is a delay in inquiry, it will adversely affect public servants if they are innocent, as their retirement benefits will not be settled as long as the cases against them are pending. Similarly, if they are found guilty, a strong message should go out. There is a dire need of nine inquiry officers in addition to the existing 11 to strengthen the institution. Therefore, we sent a proposal in April to the government, but it is still pending,” said Lokayukta Justice P Vishwanatha Shetty. “As many as 2,500 high-profile cases against senior IAS and IPS officers, those drawing salaries of `40,000 and above and also elected representatives on charges like amassing wealth are pending before the Lokayukta.
Although the case disposal rate is quite high, registration of fresh cases have doubled. Therefore, if the government is serious about curbing corruption and improving the system, it should provide required staff to expedite inquiries. Financial implications should not be a reason to deny manpower. In fact, the financial burden on the government will be more if there is delay in inquiry as it has to pay travel and other allowances to the officers and witnesses attending the cases as long as the cases are pending. It is also a waste of time,” a judicial officer said. Sources said the Lokayukta has sent repeated reminders to Chief Secretary and Secretary, Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) but to no avail. “Forget appointment of judicial officers or police officers, the government even denied a request for posting a software engineer to Lokayukta saying that it is not viable. We were asked to approach the National Informatics Centre, but nothing came out of it. How are we expected to update our software and maintain data?” a judicial officer questioned. Chief Secretary Subhash Chandra Khuntia admitted there is shortage of judicial officers but said the posts will be filled after suitable candidates are found. “We will give priority to Lokayukta wherever there is urgent need of filling posts of SPs and other police officials”, he added.