And it seems the low opinion about the ombudsman is rubbing off on the government too, with the state gazette making a singular reference to both the posts – Lokayukta and Upa Lokayukta – as against a respectful reference to the speaker, and the chairmen of the legislative assembly and legislative council. These references were made in the state gazette which published the amendment made to the Karnataka Lokayukta Act on the removal of Lokayukta and Upa Lokayukta on August 14 after it got the Governor’s assent.
Throughout the gazette, reference to the Lokayukta and Upa Lokayuta is in the singular, in usage like ‘Lokayuktanannu’, ‘Lokayuktana’, and ‘Lokayuktanige’, ‘Upa lokayuktanannu’,’Upa lokayuktana’ and ‘Upa Lokayuktanige’ (in Kannada).
The singular reference to Lokayukta and Upa Lokayukta is made over fifteen times in the gazette. The gazette uses more respectful words when it comes to the speaker, terming him as ‘Sabhadhyakshara’ and the chairman, referred to as ‘Sabhapathiyavara’.
Former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde too came down heavily on the usage. “I personally feel it is quite insulting to the position of Lokayukta and Upa Lokayukta. When you are using Sabhadhyaksharu (to speaker) it is not correct to use a singular word in case of Lokayukta or Upa Lokayukta,” Justice Hegde said.
He said the government should act immediately to set things right. “I think it should be corrected. I don’t know what the draughtsmen are doing there, the people who are drafting enactment. I don’t know how that can happen,” he said.
Complaints pile up at Lokayukta
The public is bearing the brunt of Lokayukta’s son Ashwin Yerabati’s arrest and Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao’s subsequent leave and further extension, as complaints of high importance which need the Lokayukta’s assent and decision have started piling up with no one to take decisions on petitions and reports.
Since July 27, when Justice Rao first applied for leave and Ashwin was detained by SIT, the number of pending complaints has risen to 102. All of these complaints pertain to top government officers and legislators. The institution has been handicapped as there is no one to decide on allotment of grievances/complaints for a preliminary inquiry or scrutiny to the judiciary wing’s ARE (additional registrar of enquiries) or other investigative agency. Furthermore, there is no one to pass orders – to take up an inquiry or not – based on scrutiny reports of AREs. No inquiry reports have been sent to the state government.
Rao has extended his leave till August 31 and sources in the Lokayukta have called for an alternative arrangement to prevent further piling up of files and hampering of administrative work.
In the eighth arrest in the scam, SIT arrested one Rajashekar on Tuesday. He is one of the accused in a case pertaining to complaint by businessman P N Krishna Murthy to SIT.