Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Yedyurappa's return -----the case for strong Lokayuktas

"Outgoing Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who lost his job in the wake of his indictment by Lokayukta in the illegal mining scam, publicly said he would return to this post in six months", reports a newspaper today. 
Is Mr Yedyurappa hopeful that the charges of corruption laid against him by the Lokayukta will be dropped in the next six months? Such hope cannot be grounded on a faith in the quickness and promptness of our judicial system ----- one cannot live in this country and not know that it takes years to get a case decided. 
Perhaps Mr Yedyurappa is optimistic that the government will "examine" the Lokayukta's report, and choose to reject its findings and recommendations, not because the Lokayukta has based his findings and recommendations upon inadequate evidence but because it is politically expedient to not prosecute Mr Yedyurappa and his associates. In other words, the evidence that has been painstakingly put together by a quasi judicial authority and establishes a prima facie case of corruption against a powerful politician may well be sacrificed in the interest of keeping the Southern bastion of a political party secure.
Or is it the case that Mr Yedyurappa is secure in the knowledge that the Lokayukta's report will remain "under examination" for as long as it takes for a fresh corruption scandal to erupt, preferably involving the other major political party, whereupon media attention will shift away from Mr Yedyurappa and he can quietly return to the Chief Ministership that he's so very reluctantly let go of?
The citizens of this country deserve better than to have tainted leaders remain in power , whether at the Centre or in the States, simply because the members of the political class are, by and large, engaged in a conspiracy to shield each other from the wages of sin. We deserve better than to have men whose integrity is under cloud to run the government, whether at the Centre or in the States.
          Had the Lokayukta's findings and recommendations not been merely advisory in nature, we would not have been faced with the prospect of Mr Yedyurappa's return to Chief Ministership even without the serious charges against him being examined by a criminal court. The Lokayukta himself would have initiated prosecution proceedings against Mr Yedyurappa in the competent criminal court.
We cannot afford to delay any longer the institutionalisation of a strong, independent Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the States, but the government's Lokpal bill makes no mention of Lokayuktas.  When the principle has been accepted that the Lokpal must be empowered to initiate investigations into allegations of corruption against public servants and in fit cases, initiate prosecution proceedings against them without requiring government sanction, why should it not be immediately extended to the Lokayuktas?

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