Lokayukta gets teeth

Depts must okay prosecution in three months

Lokayukta gets teeth

Chief Secretary S V Ranganath recently directed all principal secretaries and secretaries to consult the anti-corruption ombudsman on the proposals to reinstate the corrupt officials. The department heads will not be able to reinstate such officers if the Lokayukta refuses to accord its permission, official sources told Deccan Herald.

Former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde had repeatedly urged the State government to give the ombudsman such power, but in vain.

Hegde’s successor, Justice Shivaraj Patil, too, had raised the issue during his brief tenure. Justice Patil had told the government that consulting the Lokayukta on reinstating suspended officials will strengthen the institution in effectively implementing the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Hitherto, the Lokayukta had the power to only recommend suspension of an official who is either trapped red-handed taking bribe or if prima facie found to have amassed wealth disproportionate to known sources of income. The ombudsman, however, had no powers to decide on reinstatement. As per the Karnataka Civil Service (Classification, Control and Appeal) rules,1957, the authority that places an officer under suspension also has the power to reinstate her/him.

And the rules were blatantly misused to protect corrupt officials. There were instances wherein corrupt officials facing serious charges were reinstated to the same post within two months after suspension. In some cases, the suspended have been promoted and posted to more lucrative positions.

But now all this will change. Even if the Lokayukta gives its nod for the reinstatement, the corrupt official will not be posted to the same post.

The Chief Secretary has directed the department heads not to install the corrupt official to the same post.  Besides, if the official is holding an executive post, she/he should be given a non-executive post.

The Chief Secretary has also directed the department heads that the Lokayukta’s request seeking permission to initiate prosecution proceedings against corrupt officials be replied to within three months. As many as 94 such requests are pending with various departments for the last several years as there was no time limit in according permission for prosecution.

When contacted, former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde said it was a welcome move. “People’s faith in the Lokayukta institution will increase further with the government’s decision. Besides, the corrupt officials will think twice before indulging in illegal activities,” he stated.

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