The Congress government in Karnataka has done immense damage to the independence of Lokayukta (ombudsman) of the state. The judicial officer of the Lokayukta had to approach the High Court to protect the independence of the office from government intervention earlier in January. The government had decided to move a privilege motion against the Lokayukta for not appearing before a legislative assembly committee. The committee wanted to know about the utilisation of funds given to the Lokayukta even though its finances had already been scrutinised by CAG (comptroller & auditor general) of India annually.
After this episode, the independence and image of Lokayukta has taken a serious hit. In addition to this, the government had clipped the wings of Lokayukta soon after assuming power by creating another anti-corruption bureau which it can control better. As a result of this, corruption charges against Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha have hit a dead end. The charges against Mr Kharge and his family members are huge. The complaint filed way back in December 2014 has not made much progress under the Karnataka government led by Siddaramaiah.
Details of the corruption charges against Kharge
The corruption charges were filed against Mallikarjun Kharge by B Rathnakar, the General Secretary of the Samaj Parivarthan Samithi of Karnataka. He had alleged that Kharge has property in excess of 50,000 crores. The wealth has been amassed during his tenure as revenue minister as per the complaint. Mr Rathnakar has also alleged that Kharge has illegally appointed 1427 assistant engineers and junior engineers during his tenure as minister. The complainant has also accused Kharge of lying on oath while filing his election affidavit.
You have just left K’taka. If you look in your rear view mirror, @OfficeOfRG you will find your LOP mired in corruption. Your CM destroyed the agency which was investigating these charges. And you unflinchingly support these corrupt leaders! Oh wait, you are just one of them. pic.twitter.com/JR9Besq1qM
— BJP Karnataka (@BJP4Karnataka) February 13, 2018
Justice Santosh Hegde praises the Lokayukta officer for approaching HC, slams government
Meanwhile, former Lokayukta N Santosh Hegde told The Newsminute that the Lokayukta officer did the right thing by approaching the high court. He also told that the government had taken away powers of Lokayukta during its tenure by creating an anti-corruption bureau of its own. former Justice Hegde said :
The very fact that they (state government) created ACB (Anti-Corruption Bureau) and took away the power of probing anti-corruption cases from the Lokayukta is an act to make the Lokayukta weak. Now, what is left with the institution?
After finding that the Lokayukta could be proactive, the IAS, IPS officers lobby is also trying to create hurdles for the institution and the government is not doing anything to stop it. This itself shows that there is a hand in glove action on the part of the government. It is in the interest of the politicians and IAS officers to make sure that the institution becomes totally useless and also defame it in public.
Thus it appears that the erosion of Karnataka Lokayukta’s powers during Siddaramaiah’s tenure has helped stall high profile corruption cases including that of the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge.