Lokayukta institution is dead. Well, almost

The anti-corruption watchdog has been rendered defunct and govt is not pushing for a new Lokayukta’s appointment.

Published: 13th August 2016 05:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th August 2016 05:31 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: It’s been over a year since former Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao’s son Y Ashwin was arrested by the Special Investigation Team (July 27, 2015) in connection with the extortion and corruption scam in the Lokayukta institution. And it’s been three months since the governor rejected the state government’s choice of Justice Bhaskar Rao’s successor. But the government seems to be in no hurry at all to set the house in order.

Lokayukta.jpgSoon after the extortion scam in the Lokayukta was exposed, Justice Y Bhaskar Rao went on leave and later resigned. Justice S R Nayak’s name was proposed by the state government as his successor, but was rejected by the governor.

Another name which was under consideration was that of former Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, Justice Vikramjit Sen. But the Siddaramaiah government pressed with the choice of Justice Nayak.

A former judge said that the stature of the Lokayukta institution had taken a huge beating because of the in-house corruption that led to filing of chargesheets against Justice Bhaskar Rao and his son Ashwin.

Justice Sen would have been a good choice for the post of Lokayukta and people’s faith in the institution would have been restored. Now, the Lokayukta has been virtually abolished with the creation of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the former judge said.

The government has, however, chose to put the issue in the freezer. The IAS officers’ lobby too has ensured the vacuum remains so that no watchdog can haunt them in the absence of Lokayukta, sources in the Lokayukta said.

As many as 450 complaints with regard to the IAS, IPS, IFS officers and reports to be submitted to government against the officials are pending, as they fall under the Lokayukta’s jurisdiction.

Not only the Lokayukta, top cops’ posts too have been kept vacant. The situation is worsening in the Lokayukta police wing as well as the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that is probing the illegal mining scam is without a head.

The post of IGP in the SIT remains unfilled after Suresh Kunhi Mohammed took voluntary retirement last July. Of the 69 cases, the SIT has filed chargesheets in 24 cases and 45 cases are under investigation.

In the Lokayukta police wing, another IGP post is vacant after Pronab Mohanty went on central deputation a few weeks ago. The post of Superintendents of Police of Bengaluru Urban wing, Ballari and Dharwad districts have been lying vacant too.

The post of Bengaluru Lokayukta SP has been lying vacant for the past eight months ever since Sonia Narang was transferred and hence, investigation in many cases has come to a halt.

The office of the Lokayukta had written to Chief Secretary Arvind Jadhav and DG&IGP Om Prakash to fill the vacant posts in the police wing.

“It is the obligation of the government to fill the vacancies and not ours to beg to the government to fill them. There is no authority to take a decision at a higher level,” an official in the Lokayukta said.

What legal experts say

“With great difficulty, the Lokayukta was established but it was virtually abolished after the creation of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). It will be better to restore the Lokayuka by giving it police station powers.

“Political issues should not come in the way of appointment as state interest is involved in this matter. Hence, the government should appoint a judge of stature as the Lokayukta, as early as possible,” said former Chief Justice of India S Rajendra Babu.

Chief Secretary Arvind Jadhav was not available for comments.

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