BENGALURU: With Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao extending his sabbatical till August 31, cases are piling up at the anti-corruption watchdog. In the last one month, the number of cases against corrupt officials awaiting clearance has crossed 100. This has affected the litigants as the entire work of jurisdiction of the Lokayukta has come to a standstill.
The number of cases wherein reports have to be sent to the government under Section 12(3) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act is increasing steadily.
This also includes special reports that need to be sent to the Governor under Section 12 (5) if the government has not initiated disciplinary action against the corrupt officials under Section 12(3) of the Act.
Though inquiries were completed within nine months as stipulated under the Act, scrutiny of files cannot be taken up as the Lokayukta is not functioning. “The pile-up of files has gone up significantly since Justice Bhaskar Rao went on leave on July 27,” a judicial officer confirmed.
Rao went on leave after his son Y Ashwin was arrested in Hyderabad in connection with the extortion scam in the Lokayukta.
When contacted, former Lokayukta Justice Santhosh N Hegde told Express that the state government should “adjudicate the judicial powers” to Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash B Adi under Section 15 (4) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act. “But the state government is not interested to,” he said.
According to Section 15(4) of the Act, “...provided that when the office of the Lokayukta is vacant by reason of his death, resignation, retirement, removal or otherwise or when Lokayukta is unable to discharge his functions owing to absence, illness or any other cause, the Upa Lokayukta or if there are more than one Upa Lokayukta, the senior among them may discharge the functions of the Lokayukta....”
Rao Faces Criticism
Justice M Rama Jois, former governor and chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, called Justice Rao’s act “indiscipline and dereliction of duty”.
“It is a case of the fence eating the crop. Somebody must file a writ petition in the court for abdication of powers by Rao. The ultimate remedy is that the legislature put an end to his (Rao) tenure,” he said.
Former CJI S Rajendra Babu said it was very sad to see the family members of Rao involved in the scam. “How can he (Rao) continue in power? He should have resigned.”
Even administrative powers have not been delegated to the Upa Lokayukta by Justice Rao. Therefore, the funds for the Independence Day celebrations were mobilised by the Lokayukta staffers themselves. From ‘D’ group employees to the Upa Lokayukta, everyone contributed from their pockets.
Referring to this, a judicial officer said that earlier, the then Upa Lokayukta Justice S B Majage had exercised the administrative powers before Justice Bhaskar Rao was appointed as the Lokayukta.