BENGALURU: In a bid to avoid possible confrontation with the judiciary over the appointment of an IAS officer as the registrar of Lokayukta, the state government on Friday got into damage-control mode.
Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee met Acting Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee to explain the reasons behind this posting, which deviates from the precedent of deputing a district judge to the post.
“We do not want any confrontation with the judiciary. I explained the government’s position to the Chief Justice and a final decision on the matter will be taken after discussing it with the Chief Minister,” the Chief Secretary told Express.
He, however, refused to disclose the details of the meeting. He arrived at 3 pm at the High Court and held talks with Justice Mukherjee for about 15 minutes. However, the outcome of the meeting was not known.
The state government on Thursday posted IAS officer P C Jaffer as the Registrar of Karnataka Lokayukta.
This posting has raised several questions.
The Karnataka Lokayukta (Cadre and Recruitment, etc,) Rules, 1988, say, “By deputation of an officer in the cadre of District and Sessions Judge of the Karnataka Judicial Service or of an officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or by posting of an Additional Registrar as Registrar..”
In the Past
Referring to this, a Lokayukta official told Express that two IAS officers have served as Registrars. They were Adhip Chaudhuri and V Govindaraju. Chaudhuri served as second Registrar between February 1, 1988 and September 27, 1988, after the establishment of the anti-corruption body. After this, the 12 registrars of the Lokayukta, including the incumbent H R Deshpande, were district judges.
Another IAS officer, V Govindaraju, was posted as Registrar between September 28 and 1988 October 11, 1988. Both worked for a short period. In changed circumstances, after 27 years, the state government has posted IAS officer Jaffer, despite a committee headed by chief justice recommending the name of Principal City Civil and Sessions Judge Gunaki Narendra Kumar Basavaraj as Registrar of Lokayukta in its proposal submitted to the state government on July 30. While that proposal is pending before the Department of Personnel of Administrative Reform (DPAR), the government posted Jaffer.
When contacted, a judicial officer in the Lokayukta, on the condition of anonymity, told Express that the state’s act was an insult to the judiciary and that the state was trying to take control over the Lokayukta.
The registrar is also the head of the legal cell of the agency, apart from being the head of judicial officers like additional, assistant registrars of enquiries. He expressed fear that if an IAS officer is posted, he/she may reverse the order of judicial officers and help the corrupt bureaucracy.
Another judicial officer said that it was the duty of the state government to take the Lokayukta into confidence while appointing the registrar. Appointing without consultation, may lead to suspicion.
“Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao went on a long leave, after his son was arrested. In such circumstances, Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash B Adi can be consulted as he is deemed to be incharge of the administration as per Section 15(4) of Karnataka Lokayukta Act, in the absence of Lokayukta. Without doing this, posting an IAS officer overlooking the High Court recommendation will not send a good message,” a former judge said.