BANGALURU : The state government’s effort to weaken the Lokayukta institution by incorporating provisions of the Centre’s Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013 has not only been opposed by civil society but also invited resistance from the Karnataka Law Commission (KLC).
The KLC, in its report submitted to the government in July, has recommended to the government to retain the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984 stating that it is “more comprehensive and effective in fighting corruption in government departments.”
The KLC has argued for further strengthening of the Lokayukta institution. The panel recommendation is, however, not binding on the government. The state had referred the draft of the Karnataka Lokayukta Bill, 2014, to the KLC for its opinion following opposition to it from civil society and former Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde.
The draft Bill sought to take away the powers of the Lokayukta to address complaints of maladministration in government departments. It also stipulated how a complaint has to be lodged, how it has to be inquired by the Lokayukta and its staff besides providing a provision to appoint as many as eight members to the Lokayukta apart from the chairperson.
The Law Commission held that taking away the powers to deal with complaints of maladministration from the purview of the Lokayukta will render the anti-corruption watchdog ineffective. “If enacted, the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 2014 would be truncated, impotent and ineffective in controlling various forms of maladministration,” the report said.
Addressing complaints of maladministration has came to be the core function of the ombudsman in the last 10 years. For, nearly 83 per cent of complaints (18,382) registered with the Lokayukta between 2005 and 2014 are related to maladministration, the report added.
On appointing eight members to the Lokayukta, the KLC said such a move will make the Lokayukta a white elephant. The panel has also suggested the government fix a time frame for the competent authority to grant sanction for prosecution of corrupt officials, failing which such power be transferred to Lokayukta.
It has also recommended that Lokayukta submit its annual report to the state government also.