Karnataka bureaucrats to meet anti-corruption body Wednesday


Bangalore : Senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers in Karnataka will meet the state's Lok Ayukta, an anti-corruption body set up under an act of the state legislature, to explain their stand on granting more powers to it to initiate action against bureaucrats.

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The Lok Ayukta currently lacks the power to take action against senior officers, particularly secretaries to the government, who usually belong to the IAS.

Also, the Lok Ayukta can act only on the basis of a written complaint, while the Upa Lok Ayukta, the smaller body, has powers to initiate action on its own.

Lok Ayukta head Justice N. Santosh Hegde, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, alleges that the "IAS lobby" has been opposed to the granting of more powers to the body.

Justice Hegde had written to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy in August last year suggesting amendments to the Lok Ayukta Act to enable the body to launch probes against all public servants even on oral complaints, newspaper reports and letters.

Ahead of the meeting with representatives of the IAS officers, Justice Hegde told IANS that there was no fixed agenda for discussion and he did not expect his contention that the officers were against more powers to the body to be the main topic of talks.

He, however, added: "During the face-to-face discussion, it will be clear whether they are in favour of it (granting more powers) or against it."

According to him, Kumaraswamy had said he was not against more powers to the Lok Ayukta and hence Wednesday's meeting should end a on positive note.

The issue of making the body more powerful has been controversial. Justice Hegde's predecessor Justice N. Venkatakachala had a running battle with the governments on the issue. Almost every chief minister since the Lok Ayukta came into being has promised such powers without delivering the same.