With the State government appointing P C Jaffer, an IAS officer of the 2003 batch, as the registrar of the Lokayukta, judicial officers in the ombudsman, including a few sitting judges, are contemplating seeking repatriation to judicial service.
The government on Thursday passed an order appointing Jaffer as the registrar of the Lokayukta, overlooking an order by a Karnataka High Court committee that appointed Principal City Civil and Sessions Judge Narendra Kumar Basavaraj Gunaki to the post.
The High Court had communicated Gunaki’s appointment as registrar to the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) as well as the Lokayukta on August 1.
The communication was pending for an official order with the DPAR for a week. The Lokayukta office had written to the government requesting it to issue the appointment order of judge Gunaki. However, in a surprise move, the State government appointed an IAS officer as the registrar.
On Friday, Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee met High Court acting Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee. Mukherjee said talks with the acting chief justice had been inconclusive and the matter would be settled ‘amicably’. “We don’t want to confront the judiciary. The decision to appoint an IAS officer as the registrar was taken to streamline the affairs of the Lokayukta. I have spoken to the chief justice and will have to speak to the chief minister to settle the issue amicably,” he said.
The Lokayukta cadre recruitment rules, in fact, have an option to appoint an IAS officer as the registrar: “By deputation of an officer in the cadre of a district and sessions judge of the Karnataka Judicial aService or of an officer of the Indian Administrative Service, or by posting of an additional registrar.”
Sources said a sitting judge working as additional registrar (enquiries) in the institution cannot work under a registrar who is an IAS officer. Moreover, the institution never had an IAS officer as registrar since 1988. Sources said that in 1988, when A D Kaushal was the Lokayukta, IAS officers Ajit Choudhary, Govindaraju and Suranjan had worked as registrars. However, since matters pertaining to enquiries required judicial knowledge, the appointment of IAS officers was stopped,” a senior official said.
The move by the State government has come at a time when highest number of complaints against senior bureaucrats are pending with the Lokayukta. The members of Janadhikara Sangharsha Parishath, who are the complainants before the Upalokayukta in the case of corruption in the Lokayukta office, has consolidated number of complaints against senior public servants in the Lokayukta.
According to the statistics, around 820 complaints were filed against top IAS officers between January 2014 and June 2015. Of these, more than 500 complaints were closed in the recent past.
There are 11 additional registrars (enquiries), including one sitting judge. The institution also has five deputy registrars, including three sitting judges.
DH News Service