When the country is fighting against corruption in public administration, the State’s top administration, including the office of the Chief Secretary, was “caught” by none other than the Lokayukta police for violating a well-established process of law related to grant of sanction for prosecuting IAS officers facing corruption charges.
While the power to accord sanction for prosecuting IAS officers under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act vests only with the Union government, the State government was found “usurping” this power through the office of the Chief Secretary and a committee comprising senior IAS officers of the rank of Additional Chief Secretary. And in the recent past these two had “rejected” sanction for prosecuting two IAS officers — Baburao Mudbi [now retired] and V. Chandrashekar.
These facts have now been revealed through the correspondences between the office of the Chief Secretary and office of the Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) Lokayukta over the issue of granting sanction for prosecution of Mr. Chandrashekar. He is facing the charge of amassing wealth worth 47 per cent beyond known sources of his income. The Hindu has with it copies of correspondence in the matter.
After protracted communication between the Chief Secretary, the Lokayukta and the ADGP (Lokayukta) over the past two-and-a-half-years, the State government on June 21, 2013 “indirectly” admitted by stating that it has to send a proposal to the Union government as per the guidelines issued in 1999 by the Ministry of Personnel.
The case against Mr. Chandrashekar was registered in December 2007 and on completion of investigation, the Lokayukta police on May 13, 2010 wrote to the Chief Secretary to take steps for grant of sanction within three months as per the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the Vineet Narain case.
Interestingly, the government did not act within the deadline. But on May 7, 2011 it sought the response of the investigating officer of the Lokayukta police to the replies given by the accused IAS officer to the charges made against him in the investigation report.
However, the then Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde stepped in at this stage and wrote on May 20, 2011 to Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath finding serious lapses on the part of the government for not only disclosing the investigation report to the accused IAS officer but also seeking the officer’s reply, in violation of the procedure, even after investigation was completed.
Mr. Hegde also brought to the notice of the Chief Secretary the “intimidating and threatening language” used against the officers of the Lokayukta police, including the then ADGP (Lokayukta) Rupak Kumar Dutta, by the accused IAS officer, while pointing out that the process of grant of sanction should not superimpose itself on the judicial process and made it clear that the accused officer would get an opportunity at the time of trial.
The government on November 21, 2011 constituted a committee, headed by the Additional Chief Secretary, to consider request for sanction.