KARNATAKA

Lokayukta police to expedite probes

Raghava M.

127 cases pending trial since 2005



Stipulated time for completion of probe is three years

Lokayukta police want to reduce it to one year



BANGALORE: The Lokayukta police, instead of waiting for replies from accused government officials charged with possessing assets disproportionate to known sources of income, have started to gather evidence on their own to complete the investigation as soon as possible.

The accused officials are required to explain questions spread across 24 schedules regarding their assets. Since the officials take their own time, the investigation drags on, and they continue in office.

As many as 127 disproportionate assets cases in which investigations are incomplete have been pending trial since 2005, including the five registered on Thursday. These cases include 71 registered after the present Additional Director-General of Police (Lokayukta) Rupak Kumar Dutta assumed office.

Three years now

While the stipulated time is three years for completion of investigation of disproportionate asset cases, the Lokayukta police have decided break this procedure. “We are trying to complete the investigation and take the cases to the logical conclusion within a short span of time, possibly one year,” Mr. Dutta told The Hindu.

One of the initiatives to reduce the delay is specifying the “check” period of accumulation of wealth. “Rather than looking at the entire service, we focus on the period when the official started accumulating assets,” Mr. Dutta said. The Lokayukta police consider this as a reasonable period to investigate such cases.

The Lokayukta police have also stopped the practice of waiting endlessly for replies from accused officials to the 24 schedules seeking explanation about the way the assets were accumulated.

Instead, the police are gathering evidence on assets, which are mainly found to be in the form of immovable property. Undervaluation of property and benami transactions will come under the scanner with the focus on the earning capacity of the owner in the case of benami transactions.

Clearing backlog

In order to speed up investigations, the Lokayukta police have also launched a special drive to clear the case backlog.

Barring one case from Gulbarga, investigations in 21 cases registered in 2005 have been completed. Based on the investigation reports, the Government has accorded sanction to prosecute a few officials.

The Lokayukta police intend to complete investigation of 24 cases registered in 2006 before December this year. “By 2010 you will be seeing our men handling cases registered from 2009 onwards only,” Mr. Dutta said.

Special courts

The Lokayukta police have the State Government to issue a notification for setting up special courts exclusively for Lokayukta cases in Mysore and Belgaum, similar to the one in Bangalore.

At present, about 80 Lokayukta cases are pending before the Principal District and Sessions Judges of Mysore and Belgaum, who have to hear them along with regular criminal cases.

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