Karnataka: Lokayukta raises alarm over delayed prosecution sanctions in corruption cases

The Lokayukta's plea comes after the state government sought detailed information on pending cases for sanction on July 28.

Bengaluru: The Lokayukta Registrar has raised an alarm over the prolonged delay in obtaining prosecution sanctions for officials accused of illegal wealth accumulation, corruption, and bribery in Karnataka.

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In a letter addressed to the state chief secretary, the Lokayukta Registrar has urgently requested directives to concerned authorities for expeditious approval of the interrogation of government officers and employees implicated in such cases.

The letter highlights a staggering backlog of 156 cases across 22 departments of the state government awaiting prosecution sanction.

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The Rural Development and Panchayat Raj department lead with 36 pending cases, closely followed by the revenue department with 26.

Other departments, including the Ministry of Education, Women and Child Welfare, Minorities Welfare, Haj, Waqf Development, and the Legislative Assembly, each have cases requiring sanction.

The Lokayukta’s plea comes after the state government sought detailed information on pending cases for sanction on July 28. Responding to this request, the Lokayukta Director General of Police submitted a department-wise list of cases until August 15. This comprehensive list sheds light on the alarming delays in obtaining necessary approvals.

The list reveals a concerning trend of ‘Kuberas’—government officials found with more assets than their reported income. Among the accused are Chief Engineers, Assistant Executive Engineers, Assistant Engineers, Junior Engineers, Tehsildars, Shirastedars, Surveyors, Land Acquisition Officers, Auditors, Deputy Registrars, Panchayat Development Officers (PDO), BEO, District Surgeons, District AYUSH Officers, Senior RTO Inspectors, and others.

Details provided in the list include the district of the registered case, the police station involved, crime numbers, names and designations of accused government officials, submission dates for sanction proposals, and the officers responsible for pending approvals. Some cases have received reminders from the Lokayukta regarding pending sanctions.

Highlighting specific instances of prolonged delays, a proposal submitted in February 2018 for a criminal case against Bescom Assistant Engineer Manjunath in Bangalore City (registered in 2010) is still pending with the Chairman of the Board of Directors of KPTCL. Similar files await action from Additional Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, Secretaries, Deputy Commissioners, and Chief Executive Officers of various departments.

A recent proposal submitted on July 27, 2023, seeks sanction for the investigation of Madal Prashant Kumar, an economic consultant and Chief Executive Officer of Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Board (KUWSSB) implicated in a bribery case related to the Karnataka Soap and Detergent Corporation (KSDL) raw material procurement tender.

The Lokayukta has urged the government to make decisions within three months for cases sent for sanction, allowing a one-month extension with a valid reason.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the delays, Lokayukta Justice B S Patil emphasized the need for timely decisions.

Speaking to Siasat.com he said that recently, the heads of all the departments were called and instructed in this regard, urging investigators to thoroughly assess cases and promptly sanction investigations where allegations are evident on the face of it.

“The government can reject proposals with reasonable cause, but undue delays are not justified,” he added.

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