After 29 years of its inception, the Lokayukta — the anti-corruption ombudsman organisation in the State — is inundated with cases that are piling up by the day. Those seeking justice are merely filing complaints with no hope of bringing the guilty to book. As a result, the institution is losing the faith of the people.
While the post of Lokayukta has been vacant for the past 16 months, the post of a second Upalokayukta has not been filled for nine months. According to sources in the Lokayukta, over 25,000 cases are at various stages of disposal and 4,500 cases registered last year are pending. Over 4,000 and 5,800 cases are pending before Upalokayukta I and II respectively.
Registrar of Lokayukta B. Yoginath said: “Nearly 1,000 cases are posted for orders before the Lokayukta and of this, 650 are new cases. Cases have been registered based on the complaints and allegations in accordance with the statute and such cases have to be cleared by the Lokayukta himself, he added.
He said the Lokayukta can only dispose of cases of public servants who have remuneration above Rs. 20,000 a month, while the Upalokayukta will dispose of cases pertaining to public servants whose salary is below Rs. 20,000 a month.
Rapping the government for the delay in appointment of the Lokayukta, the Karnataka High Court recently observed that it may be forced to recommend to the Governor that “there is a failure of constitutional framework in the State” owing to non-appointment of the Lokayukta.
Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar recently assured initiating the process of selection of the Lokayukta before the budget session. He said the government would follow the guidelines recently issued by the Supreme Court regarding the appointment.
Mr. Yoginath admitted that the institution of the Lokayukta was facing problems because of the delay in appointments.
Refuting the allegation that the Lokayukta has become defunct, he said the process was on to clear old cases. Besides absence of Lokayukta and Upalokayukta, delay in filling additional registrars, civil and junior-level judges had wrought its impact on the functioning of the institution in the State, he said. “I am writing to the Registrar General, High Court of Karnataka, to depute judges to fill five posts of Additional Registrars and three posts of civil judges and two junior-level civil judges,” he said.