Report on illegal mining can form the basis for a chargesheet by the Lokayukta Police, he says

The Hindu met Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde on Friday for an exclusive interview on the issues arising from his investigation of the illegal mining scam. Excerpts:

As the Lokayukta has powers that go far beyond that of a commission of enquiry, what are the options before it?

As a commission of inquiry is set up for a specific issue, it doesn't have the power to prosecute, whereas we do.

Is that a possibility in this case?

Yes.

Can this report form the basis for a charge sheet?

It could definitely be a basis. The question is how we go about it. We could take suo motu cognisance, but I don't have the time as I am retiring.

What is the role of the Governor on this issue?

Till now, the practice has been that under Section 12 (3) of the Lokayukta Act, the document is sent to the Government. But maybe the Governor must be thinking that if there are criminal charges against the Chief Minister, he is entitled to take action.

But I am not joining cause with His Excellency. I will go by whatever his advice is. If his advice is that I should submit it to him, it will be done.

So, will you be sending a copy to the Governor?

I have normally been submitting reports only to the Government with directions to comply with the recommendations. If they don't do it, then under Section 12 (5), I will send it to the Governor.

Is there any charge of criminality against the Chief Minister?

There is criminality on the part of the others.

When will you submit the report?

Monday or Tuesday.

What do you think the Government will do?

I don't think they will do anything. I am saying this from past experience. I gave my previous report on December 18, 2008, where I made elaborate recommendations. But nothing has been done.

Have the former Chief Ministers S.M. Krishna and N. Dharam Singh been named?

No.

What happens to the officers who helped prepare this report after you retire?

I have put in a section in the mining report titled ‘security to officers.' I have said there is a threat to the life of [senior forest official and key investigator] U.V. Singh. He and the other four officers involved in the mining investigation are likely to face threats in future. They have stepped on the feet of many politically powerful people. Their administrative bosses have also been named. They should be given both professional and physical protection.

Lokayukta officials feel that the Lokayukta police should have been allowed to file an FIR to investigate the mining scam. They feel that the case would have been much tighter that way.

Certainly, it could have been done. But then at that point of time, the [Lokayukta] police were very busy with the [former minister] Katta Subramanya Naidu [land grab] case. I didn't want to distract them. Even now, my Deputy Inspector-General of Police says they can do it, if they are called upon for the task.

But I must wait till the time the Government fails to take action. But by then I will be gone. Somebody else will have to do that job.

There are reports that you will be the Lokayukta of Bihar…

Rubbish. Nitish Kumar approached Prashant Bhushan for help in drafting a Lokayukta Bill for Bihar. Through Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan approached me to help with the drafting of that Bill. I have agreed to meet Nitish Kumar after my retirement.