Lokayukta as the trusted anti-corruption agency in the eyes of the public is losing the people’s trust although thousands daily make rounds of the quasi-judicial agency in the hope of seeking justice from corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. And this may well be the reason for it: Of a total of 4,525 cases before Lokayukta between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012, only one case has been disposed of, as per documents with Lokayukta office.
And this has happened despite the Upa-Lokayukta lawfully being allowed to dispose of the cases before Lokayukta in the event of the latter’s post remaining vacant. Registrar of Lokayukta B Yoginath told DNA, “The complaints registered before the Lokayukta are pending because only Lokayukta can dispose the complaints. Since there is no Lokayukta, even Upa Lokayukta cannot dispose of the complaints.”
Yoginath cited section 7(1)(b) of Karnataka State Lokayukta Act while iterating that Upa Lokayukta cannot dispose of the cases registered before Lokayukta. His reasoning has roots in this section which states that Lokayukta can dispose of cases only of public servants who have a fixed salary or remuneration of more than Rs20,000 per month. Cases involving those below that are heard by the Upa Lokayukta.
However, documents available with DNA indicate that Upa Lokayukta has disposed of at least one such case involving a public servant with more than the prescribed salary limit which demarcates the jurisdictions between Lokayukta and Upa Lokayukta. Also, Section 15(4) of Karnataka State Lokayukta Act, which has been uploaded on the Lokayukta website, states: “Provided that when the office of the Lokayukta is vacant by reason of his death, resignation, retirement, removal or otherwise, or when Lokayukta is unable to discharge his functions owing to absence, illness or any other cause, the Upa Lokayukta, or if there are more than one Upa Lokayuktas, the senior among them may discharge the functions of the Lokayukta under this sub-section.”
When DNA contacted former Lokayukta justice Santosh N Hegde, he too confirmed: “According to me, Upa Lokayukta in the absence of Lokayukta, who will be the in-charge of Lokayukta, can dispose of the complaints; if the matter is urgent, he has to take action.” Advocate Byata N Jagadish, said: “According to the amendment of Karnataka Lokayukta Act in 2010, in case of Lokayukta post being vacant , Upa Lokayukta has the powers to discharge the functions of Lokayukta.”
Sitting Upa Lokayukta, justice SB Majage, could not comment but directed this reporter to speak to registrar of Lokayukta, Yoginath, who said they were not aware about the details of the single case before Lokayukta which had been disposed of by Upa Lokayukta after the Lokayukta’s post was vacated. “We will have to check it. It may also be a transferred case and Upa Lokayukta may have disposed of it. Or there is also a chance of technical error in updating the statistics.” In which case, not a single case pending before Lokayukta has been disposed of in the entire 2012.
In this background of state government’s apathy and delay over appointing a Lokayukta — especially when cases are not getting disposed of — those seeking justice are merely filing complaints with no hope of bringing the guilty to book.