Letters seeking prosecution of 'tainted' officials go missing

The State government is said to have lost the letters Lokayukta Justice (retd) Y Bhaskar Rao wrote to it recently, seeking sanction to prosecute officials accused of corruption. 

Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee is learnt to have informed the Cabinet on Friday that he had not received any letter from the Lokayukta. Officials in the Chief Minister’s office are also said to have expressed ignorance about such letters. 

The disappearance of the letters came to light when Chief Minister Siddaramaiah referred to the Lokayukta’s criticism of the government’s delay in sanctioning the prosecution of tainted officials. He also mentioned that Justice Rao had written two letters to the government in this regard. 

Siddaramaiah then asked the chief secretary to place the letters before the Cabinet.

 Mukherjee is then said to have replied there were no such letters. It is said the Cabinet members were shocked on learning that the letters were missing. An upset Siddaramaiah then directed the chief secretary to trace the letters in three days. 

Justice Rao had told reporters on Thursday that requests seeking sanction to prosecute 94 officers had been pending with the government for more than a year. He warned of making a detailed representation to the Governor, seeking his intervention as per Section 12 (5) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act if the government failed to address the problem. 

At the Cabinet meeting, the chief minister is learnt to have directed the chief secretary to not delay sanction to Lokayukta for prosecution of tainted officials. The Supreme Court had observed that permission should not be delayed for more than four months. Delaying sanction would be a violation of the Supreme Court order, Siddaramaiah is said to have remarked. Later, Mukherjee reportedly directed the heads of all departments to take immediate steps to give the required sanction to the Lokayukta. 

The Cabinet has dismissed two officials of the Health and Family Welfare department – senior physician Dr T Venkatesh and health officer Dr K Rajashekar – who were both convicted by the Lokayukta following a trap. The Cabinet also decided that any officer convicted by the Lokayukta would henceforth be dismissed from service after obtaining the opinion of the Karnataka Public Service Commission, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said. 

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