'Competent' authority 'stonewalls' probe against chief engineer

DPAR refuses to sanction prosecution, despite proof

 At a time when the battle against corruption is at fever pitch, a department of the government has shown the way out for the corrupt by refusing to grant sanction for prosecution of the accused, in blatant violation of Supreme Court guidelines.

In December 2007, the Lokayukta had raided Bise Gowda, then Chief Engineer of National Highways.

Assets worth about Rs 2.5 crore were seized and this included a house and a site in Dollars Colony and 30 acres of agricultural land in Chikkaballapur. Interestingly, the report filed by the first investigating officer was a ‘B’ report, stating that there was no indication of disproportionate assets. The then Lokayukta City Superintendent of Police (SP) Madhukar Shetty, who was not convinced with the ‘B’ report, handed over the case to DySP Manjunath H S for investigation.

In 2010, Manjunath submitted a final report stating that Bise Gowda had disproportionate assets to the tune of 70 per cent.

As part of the procedure, a letter requesting sanction for prosecution from the competent authority was sent to the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) on October 6, 2010.

No action

For two years, the DPAR sat on it, not bothering to give a reply. On October 8, 2012, DPAR shot off a letter to the Lokayukta rejecting sanction to prosecute Bise Gowda, despite all the materials placed before them indicating that Gowda indeed possessed assets disproportionate to his income.

To the surprise of the Lokayukta police, the letter from the Undersecretary to the DPAR looked into the charges against Bise Gowda and rejected the conclusion drawn by the police because of the “explanation provided by the accused.” In essence, DPAR said that none of the charges could be considered as the accused had provided a satisfactory explanation.

“It is clear from several Supreme Court judgments and guidelines that the sanctioning authority cannot take the version of the accused or hear him. They can seek any clarification from the investigating officer directly and the merits of the case have to be decided based on the materials placed before them.

This looks like they just took the version of the accused and rejected sanction,” a senior officer in the Lokayukta said.

Lokayukta Special Public Prosecutor K K Sitaram, who submitted to the Lokayukta Court that the sanction had been rejected, stated that the police had been left with no option except seek a review by DPAR on the matter.

“Otherwise, we are helpless,” he said. The Lokayukta police cannot proceed further without the sanction from the competent authority.

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