Supreme Court judge H.L. Dattu has called upon the State’s legislators to amend the Karnataka Lokayukta Act so that the anti-corruption agency’s probes are not at the mercy of the political or the bureaucratic establishment.
Addressing a gathering of bureaucrats as well as officials of the Lokayukta as part of the Lokayukta Day celebrations on Friday, Mr. Dattu said, “The time has come for the government to amend the [Karnataka Lokayukta] Act and empower the Lokayukta to prosecute corrupt officials without having to seek permission from the government.”
He said that under the present system, the hard work of the Lokayukta is going waste because the government is sitting on applications from the agency for permission to proceed against the accused. “Because of this, officials think ‘so what if we are caught, the government is still with us and will protect us’. I request the State government to amend the law and energise the Lokayukta in its fight against corruption,” he said.
According to statistics released earlier by Lokayukta Y. Bhaskar Rao the government is yet to grant sanction to prosecute 711 government officials. Another 13 cases have been forwarded to the Governor seeking his intervention after the government failed to act within the stipulated time on requests for sanction to prosecute.
Mr. Dattu continued, “The need of the hour is to have an effective cop who can investigate and prosecute the high and mighty without interdiction from the very people who need to be prosecuted.”
Seconding him, the former Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde said, “I find the provision – requiring the Lokayukta to seek sanction to prosecute government officials – redundant. The government should think of amending sections of the law that require the Lokayukta to seek sanction.”
Giving his former colleagues at the Lokayukta some tips, he said that they should take action against elected representatives under Sections 176 and 177 of the Indian Penal Code when they violate the requirement to declare their assets every year before the agency. “If they deny the information, they can be jailed for three months under Section 176 and if they provide false information, they can be jailed for six months under Section 177,” he said.