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Meeting with Lokayukta Justice Hegde

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Justice Hegde 1Some of us went and met Lokayukta Justice Hegde today. A long, and very interesting meeting, I am not sure how much of what we heard we will manage to post here. Its one thing to hear stories of corruption (loose talk like X eats money, Y drinks duddu) at parties, and simply another to hear those from people (we heard from Up-Lokayukta and their PR Officer Mr Riaz as well) who deal with such cases and people on daily basis.

Major Kapur, Murali, Praveen (Photoyogi), Naveen, Devesh and myself were there. Sorry, as this meeting couldn't be pre-announced as the notice period was too short. Let all attendees post their accounts from the meetings here (I will post mine in a bit). And then, on this post or another, we should brainstorm on how we can work with Lokayukta to seek help in personal cases of corruption or harassment, or in dealing with local government apathy in our communities.

PS: Dec 6, assigned the post to admin

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My experience with the subregistrar - lessons and tips

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Photoyogi's picture

Meeting with Lokayukta - minutes of meet

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Some topics that caught my attention were

a ) Firstly all government officials must understand that they are "government servants" and its their duty to do work. and we citizens should not be treating them as gods.

b) All IAS & IPS officers must declare all assets & liabilities of 260 odd officers only 3 of them have done so so far

c) Sec 17 of book of prevention of corruption must be abolished, As this is an ancient law introduced by the British to protect their officers. There is another organisation (Transparency international) who are already working towards this. (can some one please give a pdf link to this document)

d) Today's law sees a Bribe Giver as an equal party to the crime. But the Bribe giver is sure to get arrested where as the Govt servant is likely to get away because of the immunity he enjoys.

e) If you complain to Lokayukta about a building construction violation, Lokayukta only has the powers to question the official in charge who approved the irregularity. However, one should press legal charges against the builder directly to stop the construction.

These points were elaborated with several real examples. Justice Santosh Hegde narrated to us some with big names too. I am not sure if i can go Verbatim on the same.

--
PhotoYogi

 

-- PhotoYogi

Naveen's picture

LokAyukta Meeting

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Hi All,

Our meeting began at about 13.00 with Mr.Riaz. We went into Justice Santosh Hegde's chambers at about 13.30 & the meeting ended at almost 15.15 hrs - quite long, detailed & very useful.

Justice Santosh Hegde was most welcoming & shared a lot of his ideas & narrated the many constraints that his office worked under. He also cited various examples, similar to the types that we get to hear everywhere.

The general impression we gathered were as follows :   Ministers are above the ambit of the LokAyukta. Top bureaucrats, though questionable, usually remained protected & are unassailable. Lower rungs of the bureaucracy are more vulnerable, & so, their targets usually lie here. However, even after exposure, they slither away as government does not usually take stringent action against them.

Suo Moto* powers were repeatedly being denied to LokAyukta by the government, & this was a big handicap for their work.

As Praveen mentioned, Justice Hegde had insisted that all IAS /IPS officers declare their assets, but this could not be enforced legally, & had resulted in only 3 of them coming forward to do so.

The "Whistleblower" law is still pending, as governments have still to move forward. Thus, there is no progress on this front.

Devesh had a suggestion to prepare & post FAQs on praja with help from LokAyukta's office for various hurdles that we face day to day, such as if someone were to apply for building license, but the same was not being passed, what options, including legal ones that he could take; Or if one were to encounter problems with say, public health centers demanding excess money, what recourse one could take, etc..

All in all, it was a great meeting. We remain better enlightened about their system & how it works. This had been explained with several examples for our better understanding.

(*Suo Moto is a legal Latin term, or more appropriately, "Sua Sponte", means "on its own motion". It is used, for example, where a government agency acts on its own cognizance, as in "the Commission took Suo Moto control over the matter").

Nitinjhanwar's picture

Links to Prevention of Corruption Act.

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Today in TOI Jaipur/Delhi edition there was a news item that the CEO of Jal Board of Delhi has been given a PRECAUTIONARY sentence of three months of prison by the Court. The full item can be read at :

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Daily/skins/TOI/navigator.asp?Daily=TOIJ&login=default&AW=1227706454468

The under link is I think of the whole Prevention of corruption act. But it says 1988 so its quite recent.

http://persmin.nic.in/EmployeesCorner/Acts_Rules/PCAct/pcact.pdf

Also browsed through trnasparency international and the Indian Chapters didn't find any link for their work on this act. If anybody does pls post it.

nJ

-nJ-

919462900144

www.nitinjhanwar.biz

murali772's picture

more on LA

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Some points that others have missed out:

Lok Ayukta has a huge police force woking under him to carry-out the investigation work. The number is well over 100, with the highest rank being a DIG, if I got it right. They are posted here on deputation from the regular force. So, he has first to do a 'detoxification' (my usage) exercise with them before assigning them their duties.

At the highest levels, he selects from a panel of names forwarded by the government. And, if he is not satisfied with the panel, he asks for a fresh panel. He even named an officer who he had rejected recently, and, in my view, justifiably so. I happen to know the officer.

Further, the first thing he did on assuming office is to declare his wealth, including on the net. Inspite of having served as a Supreme Court judge, he does not have a plot of land in Bangalore, or anywhere in the country, nor any agricultural holdings or anything like that. All that he has is the flat where he lives. He says he is comfortable, and that's all that he wants.

If the system can throw up people like him, there's hope after all, I would like to conclude.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
Vinay's picture

It is hugely encouraging to read this

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It is hugely encouraging to read this. What our agenda must be now, is to aggressively pursue efforts to grant suo moto powers to the Lok Ayukta, and provide the organization more teeth. What is the way forward? Mass letters of protest, or PIL, or something else? How can we take this forward?

kbsyed61's picture

Praja Admin, time for Gyan pages !

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Guys,

I must thank you all for the efforts that are being put in meeting with various officials in different departments. I am impressed with our Lok Ayukta Mr. Hegde. I admire his integrity and honesty. This shows that honesty and integrity requires much more sacrifices than we envision.

Guys, after reading post on every meetings and its minutes, I am feeling very emotional that I am missing something more precious for being not been in Bangaloreable to participate.Keep up the good work.

Admin, time has come to go full throttle on creating and publishing Gyan pages for other folks to take advantage of. We should create enough basic information about all the civic authorities and govt departments that can guide people in filing PILs, RTIs, complaints, giving tips to Loka Ayukta, Tax departments etc. Before I ask others let me put the basic info on filing RTIs this weekend. I do hope others would also lend their support in this.

Syed

Devesh's picture

"How to" manuals / FAQs

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 Devesh had a suggestion to prepare & post FAQs on praja with help from LokAyukta's office for various hurdles that we face day to day, such as if someone were to apply for building license, but the same was not being passed, what options, including legal ones that he could take; Or if one were to encounter problems with say, public health centers demanding excess money, what recourse one could take, etc..

It was indeed an eye opener visiting the Lokayuktha. I feel that Praja can leverage its online presence by preparing "how to" guides with the help of the Lokayuktha.

Continuing the example quoted by Naveen, the Lokayuktha taught us, that even after the complaint and his action against the BBMP engineer in case of construction in violation of sanction plans, he cannot stop the construction, and petitioning the BBMP will not produce results.

The aggrieved neighbour should get a "stop construction" injunction from the court. For the few who petition the court, most times the court will issue a "status quo" injunction. This does not help, as the same corrupt BBMP engineer is responsible for saying what is status quo. It is important to press for an get a "stop construction" injunction.

This is just a small nugget from the wealth of knowledge Justice Hegde has, and what we should leverage for the benefit of citizens.

-----------------------

Regards

Devesh R. Agarwal

Visit my aviation blog at http://aviation.deveshagarwal.com

 

-----------------------
Regards
Devesh
Bangalore Aviation
Enjoy life, destroy FUD
silkboard's picture

My notes from Lokayukta meeting

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The two big thoughts that ran through my head as I left Justice Hegde's office after the meeting were:

  1. These guys must be frustrated on two counts. A) Not many citizens come forward and complain. Sample this, the 24/7 Loayukta helpline gets a paltry 40 calls a day. Thats it. B) In most cases, after having caught a bribe taker via a trap, or having unearthed unaccounted property via raids, they have to live with the govt officer getting away with a transfer or light suspension or in many cases nothing much if LA office doesn't get government's sanction to prosecute
  2. Why is it that not many NGO types are engaged with Lokayukta? My first question to Justice Hegde was - "do citizen bodies work with you ...", and he said only one has worked in recent past, and there too, they promised to help with something and then perhaps lost interest. I thought that this (LA) is one place where we really can do things to help.

But then, some words of caution on both above points.

  • Despite their frustrations, they are a very very enthusiastic bunch, all three individuals we met came across as very driven guys no matter what!
  • About helping Lokayukta, we got to be careful as perhaps there would be an element of risk involved.

Some recent cases they narrated to us, esp the one that Mr Riaz told us (recall the recent news about a BDA engineer getting caught taking bribe, and the bribe taker too was arrested) left me stunned. Not that we don't hear or or see this stuff  in gossip circles and movies, but thinking that Lokayukta office has to live with watching people get away is shocking.

To the laymen, let me explain what I understood of the problem around this jargon called suo motu powers. Lets say Lokayukta has solid evidence against a corrupt babu. He can't go after that babu till some person or organization files a formal complaint . Further, there is no provision to provide anonymity to the complainant. So, in a nutshell, a bunch of people can't just drop a CD in his office, walk away, and then expect LA's office to do something. In fact, he had a CD sitting on his table with detailed evidence of irregularities at a big name builder's project, but he said that he can't do a thing unless someone come forwards as a complainant.

For the sake of a balanced discussion, one must understand that there probably are some arguments against giving such powers powers to LA as well. LA's office could be misused, say by the government themselves to selectively make him go after the individuals they dislike. When his office would get flooded with 1000 calls a day, who will dictate which one he should go after first? Next, you are taking a chance with Lokayukta as a person as well, what if the next person after Justice Hegde turns out to be a corrupt man himself? Pay Lokayokta some money, and get your enemy behind the bars - would that be a possibility?

I vaguely asked a question on these lines to Justice Hegde, and he said that there is a "check" on his office as well. Judiciary has the rights to investigate his actions. I assume this means that if the aggrieved party feels being victimized, they could approach courts to get Lokayukta's actions in that particular case investigated.

If such a check is in place, whats the problem with suo motu powers? As long as his office pursues all cases with powerful and documented evidences, whats our problem who he goes after and who he does not? If he could work transparently based on just evidences, imagine how much help he could get from general public in collecting evidences and building his cases against corrupt officials.

We talked and heard so much. Tough to type it all.

Naveen's picture

SB - Well Explained

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SB - Thanks, I think these further explanations were much needed.

Rithesh's picture

Cant the LA work along with Income Tax people?

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Has LA ever considered the option of collaborating their raids with the Income Tax officials.

Its obvious that LA does not have enough powers and it might actually be tough to prove that the caught official was indeed involved in corruption. But its is always easy to prove disproportionate income and in such case shouldnt they hand over details to IT department.

Also in case of anonymous complaints - the information could be shared with IT/Excise/Commercial Taxes departments. If not the LA, alteast these departments can follow up.
Naveen's picture

The Idea is Not bad

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Rithesh,

I think you do have a point, & we should check this out with Upa Lokayukta.

The Chicago gangster, Al Capone had been charged with tax evasion since they could not prove that he had been bootlegging liquor & had also been responsible for gang wars & several killings !!

Similar tactics could perhaps be used to charge them under already existing income tax laws.

silkboard's picture

Good idea Rithesh

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We should ask Mr Hegde if he can work along with IT deptt, those folks could be the "complainants", and that way he can work on even "anonymous" tips.

praneshachar's picture

meeting lokayukta

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It is a great work by the praja team. hardhika shubhashyagalu. i nimma karya munduvariyali. yes it is true the institution of lokayukta has got some limitations. they have their own constraints thanks to our sytems and politis. if given a free hand to deal as long as we get people like sri.venkatachala and sri santhosh hegde with good supporting team they can expose many things and many many many things. public awareness if it happens wonder can be done. no institution or individual can do anything unless people actively support SB and team kudos for the efforts and sharing the details here in praja pranesh
pranesh
pdk's picture

a ) Firstly all government

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>>> a ) Firstly all government officials must understand that they are "government servants" and its their duty to do work. and we citizens should not be treating them as gods. <<<

Important point that. They already behave like modern-day kings. We reinforce this behaviour by treating them as gods.

pdk's picture

Talking of incidents that

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Talking of incidents that resemble movie plots, here is one I heard of from a relative.

There is a petrol bunk on the main road in their area owned by a politician. It came up recently - 2-3 years ago. According to original BMP plans, an access road from their area to the main road should have been built there. But the petrol bunk soon occupied the entire space including the space for the access road. Soon life became tough for the residents as autos started lining up all hours of the day and night behind the petrol bunk in the residential area to fill up gas. So much so that vendors started selling eatables & other stuff there to the auto drivers. The quiet peaceful area was done for.

The residents started protesting. They gathered at the back gate of the petrol bunk, but the employees doused them with water. They tried to complain at the police station (it shares a wall with the petrol bunk!) - a nice modern style police station. But the inspector would always be missing at that time. My uncle even made an RTI application to get the facts of the BMP plan. By now, they had already started getting calls to desist. And here is the punchline, befitting a movie. The petrol bunk owner tells my relative, "I had nothing when I started. Now I've made 45 crores. Imagine what all things I would have done to make that much of money. So if you know what is right for you, please stop all this".

He will one day represent us.

Photoyogi's picture

Lokayukta contact details pls

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Dear admin, can you please post the contact details of the lokayukta here.
They are supposed to have a call in number, websites etc.
At least readers can get intouch with them
-- PhotoYogi

-- PhotoYogi

flanker's picture

Karnataka Lokayukta WebPage

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Karnataka Lokayukta Webpage

Multi Store Building,
Dr, Ambedkar Vedhi,, Bangalore, Karnataka 500001, India
+91 80 22257013.

Website gives more info about complaints etc

silkboard's picture

Lokayukta RTI project

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So now, how many people will be game for a simple project

  • Every month, write one or two RTI applications to Lokayukta office
  • Post the replies on the website

We will figure the exct details of what to ask (will have to be creative so that we get clear updates on what action LA has taken, and where all he faced hurdles from the government) once a few folks come forward.

RTI to LA office would be a simple, easy and practical way to collaborate with them.

Naveen's picture

LA-RTI: Count Me In

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Hi SB - You can count me in. Rithesh & Syed already have some experience & could guide us, if necessary.
Rithesh's picture

Count me in too :)

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Naveen, LA officials are very prompt in processing the applications. They do it off in less than two weeks - others push it till the end (4 weeks).

The trick here is to ask the right questions. In the previous application that was filled by Praja, we didnt get what we were expecting. Fine tuning of the application is necessary.

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