Ever since Justice N. Venkatachala, retired judge of the Supreme Court, took over as the Lok Ayukta of Karnataka, he has put the fear of God into corrupt public servants . So much so, he is today the country’s best-known people’s watchdog. He personally goes through each of the 250 complaints of corrupt practices received by his office and often leads the raiding parties himself to catch bribe-takers red-handed.
The latest case which has sent shock waves across the country is regarding five police officers — one Deputy Superintendent of Police and four Inspectors — who were found during raids by the Lok Ayukta’s vigilance officers in possession of about Rs 50 crore worth of property, which was, as Justice Venkatachala put it, 1,000 times more than their known sources of income. They have all been promptly suspended by the State government and will be made to face the rigours of the law.
There is an impression among the public that because the anti-corruption agencies are manned by police personnel, the degree of vigilance shown against higher police officers is not the same as shown against officials of the other departments.
It is necessary to ensure that such an impression is not allowed to persist. In the interest of maintaining integrity in a sensitive department like the police, more drive should be shown in gathering information against higher police officers and following it up by raids to bring the corrupt elements to book.
Only 15 States have laws pertaining to Lok Ayuktas, but most of them (with Karnataka as an honourable exception) have kept the Chief Minister outside their purview. Considering that India ranks high in the corruption perception index of the Transparency International, civil society activists must demand the inclusion of provisions concerning Lok Pal and LokAyuktas in the Constitution itself as in the case of the Panchayats.
B. S. RAGHAVAN