Lokayukta has become a thorn in BJP flesh

Lokayukta has become a thorn in BJP flesh

On top of it, senior BJP leader K S Eshwarappa has questioned the very need of continuing the statutory body like the Lokayukta in the wake of allegations that there are corrupt personnel in the institution.

The Lokayukta post has been lying vacant from September 19 since the resignation of Justice Shivaraj Patil. Before posting Jeevan Kumar Gaonkar as the Additional Director General of Police, the post was vacant for nearly three months. At present, 10 posts of SPs, four posts of DySPs and nine posts of inspector are vacant.

Gaonkar was shunted out unceremoniously. Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda on Sunday claimed the officer was shifted with his consent. But Gaonkar has denied he was not willing to continue in the post.

There seems to be no meeting point between the government and the governor when it comes to appointing Justice Bannurmath as the Lokayukta. The government is not ready to reconsider its decision of appointing Bannurmath, while the governor has not heeded it saying he will not appoint an “inappropriate” person.

Bannurmath owning a site in the controversial judicial layout has been quoted as a reason for setting aside his selection to the post.

The government, instead of searching for an alternative, is insisting that the Governor should give the nod for the government’s decision.

Officers who are working with the Lokayukta say that vacant posts only create more pressure on the existing staff and also lead to delay in attending to cases. The time has come to strengthen the institution rather than creating more problems as high-profile cases are being referred to it, they say.

When Deccan Herald contacted some former judges, none of them said the Lokayukta institution should be scrapped. Instead, they said it should be strengthened to fight corruption.

Justice A J Sadashiva, a retired Karnataka High Court judge, said Eshwarappa’s statement was politically motivated because some top politicians were in trouble following cases filed by the Lokayukta police. Justice Santosh Hegde, when he was the Lokayukta, had admitted there were corrupt employees in the Lokayukta. There were corrupt people in the judiciary, too, he had pointed out.

“Politicians do not want to be caught for their wrongdoings. And it is difficult to catch them. There is no perfect system. Has not the Constitution been amended at least 100 times? Just because there are some lacunae, should we do away with even the Constitution? There are corrupt politicians in Parliament. Should we argue that there is no need for Parliament? Statements such as the one made by Eshwarappa should not be taken seriously because these are time-serving statements. There are good and bad people in every institution,” the judge said.

The need of the hour is to strengthen the Lokayukta institution. As suggested by Hegde, prosecution power should be given to the Lokayukta, Justice Sadashiva said.

Echoing similar views, Justice Malimath, retired chief justice of the Kerala High court, said there should be an institution to deal with corruption cases. That could be called the Lokayukta or by any other name. “Still, I prefer a system where corruption cases are curtailed rather than punishing the corrupt. The Lokayukta could have a separate wing which can develop a system to check corruption at the department level. Prevention (of corruption) is better than punishing (the corrupt).”

The judge said people should be sensitised on why bribe should not be paid. The Lokayukta police are also just like any police. “We should have honest officers in the police department too, not just those who are posted to the Lokayukta police,” he said.
Former advocate general Ashok Harnahalli is of the view that the first thing the government should do is fill the Lokayukta post. The post of one Upa Lokayukta is already vacant.

“The Lokayukta institution is created through legislation. So, the question of not liking the institution doesn’t arise. We need to have an agency which has skills to investigate corruption cases, and the Lokayukta police are doing it,” he said.

To a question whether there is lack of judges who suit the post of Lokayukta, Harnahalli said getting a retired high court chief justice or a retired judge of the supreme court was not easy.

“But we can get people from outside the State. Like in the High Court, we will have to translate Kannada documents into English,” he said.

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