Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lessons for Lokpal, from Karnataka Lokayukta

The following are a excerpt from the article by Narayana A., Sudhir Krishnaswamy and Vikas Kumar (faculty at Azim Premji University, Bangalore):
  • …..between 1995 and 2011, Karnataka’s Lokayukta carried out only 357 suo motu raids against individual officials but received and responded to over 2,159 complaints against 2,681 officials (and 59 private persons). In other words, for every six cases investigated in response to citizen complaints, only one is initiated by the department suo motu. 

  • Institutional leadership is seen to have a significant impact on the agency’s performance as more than 66 per cent of the raid cases were initiated between 2006 and 2011, when Justice Santosh Hegde was the Lokayukta.
  • A department-wise analysis of prosecution of corruption by the Karnataka Lokayukta reveals that more than 80 per cent of the trap cases are related to four essential functions of government: local government (24.06 per cent), administration (37.65 per cent), welfare (17.61 per cent) and regulation (2.54 per cent). The rest of the cases are divided between agriculture and irrigation (3.76 per cent) and economic activities (12.75 per cent). Analysis of raid cases reveals a similar departmental distribution.

  • In Karnataka, nearly half of the officials against whom Lokayukta has proceeded against are officials in the lower bureaucratic scale while about 10 per cent are senior officials. Only 0.8 per cent belong to the IAS, IPS, IFS and KAS cadres. 
  • The core of the problem for the Karnataka Lokayukta is the criminal trial, over which it has little control. Over 95 per cent of the cases in which charge sheets have been filed are under trial. The cases under trial are, on an average, more than five years old. In any event, only 16 cases overall have resulted in convictions. This is a conviction rate of 20 per cent of completed cases and a small fraction of pending cases. This is much lower than the rate of convictions in criminal prosecutions in anti-corruption cases in India in recent years, which is between 34 and 40 per cent. Hence, the key problem at the core of a criminal conviction model for tackling corruption in India is the trial stage.

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