Will the incumbent Lokayukta’s term, which ends in the next 10 days, come to the rescue of the Karnataka chief minister, who has been indicted in the Lokayukta’s second mining report for alleged involvement in large-scale illegal mining?
As per the Karnataka Lokayukta Act of 1984, if the government fails to act on the Lokayukta’s report within three months of its submission the Lokayukta can send a report to the governor under Section 12 (5) of the act stating that since the report has not been tabled before both Houses, he may kindly do so for action on it. But, under the current circumstances, the author of the explosive mining report — the incumbent Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde — will demit office on August 2 and the onus of taking any action against the CM and other political leaders indicted in the report for alleged involvement in illegal mining will lie with his successor. Whether the new appointee will take on the CM who appoints him depends upon who succeeds Justice Hegde.
The Lokayukta will submit his report to the government since the inquiry into the illegal mining was instituted by the government. He cannot submit it to the governor. Under Section 12(5) of the said act, he can, however, send another report to the governor on government inaction on his report if the government fails to table it in the legislature within three months of its submission. Justice Hegde may have made the move had he been in office to ensure appropriate action on his mining report. Alternatively, any member of the public can file a PIL against the indicted persons in court, which can be challenged by the affected party, in this case the CM and others.
Section 13, about a public servant having to vacate office if directed by the Lokayukta, may also play an important role. If the Lokayukta finds a substantial charge against a public servant he can seek the person’s removal from office. In such a case the Lokayukta, by way of a declaration under subsection 12 (3), can recommend to the competent authority that the public servant be removed from office. In such cases the competent authority is either the CM or the governor. However, in this case it would be the governor since the CM has been indicted in the report. The competent authority is at liberty to accept or reject such a declaration. Hindu