Hired on contract, B. Yoginath has been given five extensions

Successive State governments seem to have flouted the rulebook in the repeated appointment of a retired district judge as Additional Registrar (Enquiries) of the Lokayukta, who also holds the post of in-charge Registrar in the organisation.

Despite the Finance Department’s advice against the appointment of retired district judge B. Yoginath on contract, his services have been retained for at least six years. The Finance Department has not only repeatedly cited government policy against continual reappointments but also opposed extension of contract beyond five years.

Advice ignored

Ignoring the advice, the government has extended the contract of Mr. Yoginath, serving as Additional Registrar (Enquiries) since January 2007, five times, the last in mid-March this year. Besides, on October 3, 2011, he was made in-charge Registrar when Lokayukta’s post was vacant.

The Lokayukta office first sought the services of Mr. Yoginath (who retired on September 30, 2006 as a district judge), citing high workload and need to dispose of pending complaints expeditiously. In its letter on September 22, 2006, it said Mr. Yoginath and Nadiga Jayaswamy could be appointed on contract under the Karnataka Civil Services (General Recruitment) Rules, 1977, Rule 15 (1) (A), particularly as the High Court had rejected deputing sitting district judges to the Lokayukta as there weren’t enough judges.

1994 order

The Finance Department (on November 15, 2006) opposed the Lokayukta proposal as the government had a stated policy of not reappointing retired officers/employees. Though the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) referred to a 1994 order that prohibits reemployment on contract basis, it went along with the appointment citing there were no other options, documents with The Hindu show.

Despite this, the then Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, on December 14, 2006, approved the appointment of Mr. Yoginath and Mr. Jayaswamy on a two-year contract. Mr. Yoginath took over as Additional Registrar on January 10, 2007 while Mr. Jayaswamy occupied his post on February 1, 2007.

The Finance Department again opposed extension of their tenure by two more years when the proposal came up on August 23, 2008. But the then Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa cleared the extension on November 27 that year.

Raised eyebrows

The third extension of Mr. Yoginath’s contract raised more eyebrows. Though his term ended on January 9, 2011, the Yeddyurappa Cabinet approved yet another extension on April 21, 2011 with retrospective effect from January 10. This time, the Finance Department did not object but insisted it should be the last. The Lokayukta did not seek Mr. Jayaswamy’s extension.

The government once again on the grounds of “public interest” retained Mr. Yoginath’s services, courtesy the D.V. Sadananda Gowda Cabinet on February 2, 2012.

The Finance Department then cited the Karnataka Civil Services (General Recruitment) Rules, 1977, stating that the maximum possible term for contract employment was five years.

Crucial post

Wing Commander (retd.) G.B. Athri, who sourced the documents under the Right to Information Act, wrote to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on January 2, 2013, seeking Mr. Yoginath’s removal, but to no avail. “He is already over 66 years and not only has government policy been violated, but also the Finance Department’s advice has been thrown to the winds. During this period, a permanent incumbent could have been identified and posted,” he pointed out to The Hindu. The Lokayukta Registrar’s is an important post involving management of the administration of the ombudsman’s office, including allocation of funds. “How can a person appointed on contract be given such an important post?

Others too

Sources in the Lokayukta said at least eight other Additional Registrars (Enquiries) are currently on contract but Mr. Yoginath’s tenure has been the longest.

Justifying the appointment, a senior DPAR official told The Hindu either a district judge or an IAS officer could be appointed to the post. “We are already short of 64 IAS officers in the State cadre and getting a district judge is difficult. In such circumstances, what can we do?” The official also confirmed that Mr. Yoginath’s appointment was extended by another year by Mr. Shettar in March this year.

When this correspondent sought Mr. Yoginath’s reaction, he said: “I have no comments” B. Yoginath.

According to the Finance Department, the maximum possible term for contract employment is five years

Sources in Lokayukta said at least eight other Additional Registrars (Enquiries) are currently on contract but Mr. Yoginath’s tenure has been the longest

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