Ravi's death: State govt scores self-goal

A fair, independent inquiry will instil great confidence in other honest officers to con-tinue their good work.

The death of Karnataka IAS officer D K Ravi under mysterious circumstances raises more questions and has even much more implications about the manner in which state administration is being run.

Whatever the top most functionaries in the government may say about the possible cause of the death, it is common knowledge in Karnataka that Ravi had earned the wrath of some powerful individuals who were responsible for his transfer from Kolar. It is also well known that he had gone after some big businesses and was planning to raid some more allegedly big defaulters of commercial taxes.

It is, therefore, beyond simple common sense that even before the post mortem of Ravi’s body, the senior most police authority as well as the home minister thought it necessary to pronounce that prima facie it was a case of suicide. The state government seems to have scored a self-goal. This unholy haste has made the common man to rightly suspect that the state authorities concerned are trying to deflect the course of investigation.

The spontaneous outrage of the civil society, opposition parties in Karnataka, parents of Ravi and the media against the blatant refusal of the state government to hand over the investigation to CBI clearly reflects the general perception among the people that investigation by the CID is not likely to be fair. The state government will lose public confidence if it does not heed to their demand for a CBI inquiry.

It is of utmost importance that the state government should come clean which can only be done if the inquiry is conducted by an independent outside authority like the CBI. Considerable time has already elapsed and no further time should be wasted, as with every passing moment, the evidence is likely to disappear or tampered with.

There is another major implication of this case, which is also connected with a fair investigation of the case. There are quite a few honest, courageous and bold officers in the senior civil services in the country who are doing commendable service to the country even at great personal risk. They also take the risk of falling out of favour with their bosses in their respective services as well as their political bosses.

A fair and independent inquiry will go a long way in instilling great confidence in them to continue their good work in the government; otherwise, they will think twice before taking tough action against the corrupt and unsocial elements. That will further lower the image of the government and lack of public confidence in it.

Overwhelming sentiments

There is one more aspect related to the need for a fair inquiry. What is the IAS association doing to put its point of view on this issue? The Karnataka IAS association meeting, which I attended, was held on March 17 in Bengaluru.

In spite of the overwhelming sentiments expressed by most participants to press the government for a CBI inquiry, the final view taken was to wait for more facts to emerge before any decision is taken by the association in the matter. This was a typical response of a group of senior most service which runs the day to day affairs of the government at responsible levels and which is also responsible for advising the government on various policy matters.

It reflects the lack of ability to take hard decisions by a service, which was meant to be the steel frame of the government. Over the years, they have lost their strength, even when they continue to enjoy the same security and protection under the constitution.

Not only the IAS but other civil services associations also need to introspect and see what has happened to them and how to redeem their status and strength to perform their duties expected of them.

What should the IAS Association do? I would like to suggest that association must try to persuade the CM and his cabinet colleagues to have periodic free and frank interaction with the association to mutually benefit through getting a better understanding of the issues of governance at the state as well as field levels.

It is also necessary that government of India should take a serious note of the state of health of its senior civil services, which need strong support, encouragement and protection against corrupt and powerful people in politics, bureaucracy, industry and the underworld.

The morale of the services is very low and their status and performance is going down the hill very rapidly. It is absolutely necessary that India’s civil services are in good shape if it has to become a developed nation and a world power.

The only silver lining is the tremendous public support, which is now being witnessed for a fair investigation into Ravi’s death. One hopes that Ravi’s sacrifice will not go waste and honest civil servants will be allowed to do their work honestly and fearlessly.

(The writer is former Additional Chief Secretary, Karnataka Government)

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