Cleansing the Lokayukta: Shunt out the corrupt, post honest officials
With the Lokayukta’s secret of in house corruption out in the open, the Karnataka government rushed to stem the damage by recalling tainted officials holding office in the institution. But is that enough to cleanse an agency set up to check corruption?
Officials who have served in the department say it’s easier said than done. Police officials who were either raided by the Lokayukta, or caught red-handed taking bribes, are now part of the institution.
The agency’s image has taken a beating in the past few years, and Lokayukta SP Sonia Narang’s recent exposure has dented its image further.This is a far cry from the reputation the institution once enjoyed as a premier anti-corruption watchdog under two former Lokayuktas, Justices N Venkatachala and | N Santosh Hegde.
Unearthing multi-crore scams and netting several high-profile persons, including a chief minister, brought it national fame. Now, the Lokayukta’s activities are limited to raids on small fish.
Former Infosys director V Balakrishnan, who is with the Aam Aadmi Party, said the government should shunt out all corrupt officials and post honest officials. “There are many officials with high integrity who should be identified and posted. That’s the only way out,” he said.
There is also a view that the state government should stop posting police officials to the Lokayukta.
Ramesh Kumar, a former Lokayukta officer said: “The government should look to set up a dedicated wing by directly recruiting officials who are trained here. They should ensure they don’t compromise on integrity at any cost.There would still be some black sheep, given the greed and temptation in the profession but it wouldn’t be as bad as it is now.”
But some officials feel it won’t work. “Officers like Madhukar Shetty who were part of the Lokayukta, have done an extraordinary job battling corruption. It’s the experience of the past that enabled them to act and investigate such cases. Instead of separate recruitment, the government should appoint people based on their service track record. Only officers with high integrity should be posted here,” said a senior IPS officer who recently served in the Lokayukta.
Former law minister S Suresh Kumar said the government should treat Narang’s letter as a blessing in disguise. All long-serving officials, whether they are corrupt or not, should be transferred indiscriminately .