As talks of Lokpal Bill during the current Parliament Session resurface, it is time to look at a study undertaken by researchers at Azimji Premji University’s Law & Governance Initiative, on working of the Karnataka Lokayukta, for important learning about working of the Lokpal / Lokayukta institution. Some of the pertinent findings are:
While demand has been that Lokpal be endowed with powers to suo moto initiate criminal investigation, however evidence points that between 1995-2011 Karnataka’s Lokayukta only carried out only 357 suo moto raids as compared to 2159 cases where it took action based on public complaints. Thus major source of taking action was based on public complaints and not suo moto action.
Most of the cases filed against various officials are belonging to lower cadre. Only 0.8% cases relate to IAS, IPS, IFS and KAS cadres. This indicates that there is a need of separate wings for ensuring proper allocation of manpower and resources with special skills for dealing with different levels of corruption. Combining all the powers in one institution may become inefficient way of handling the resources.
Huge perception has been built that delays in receiving sanction for prosecution from the concerned department is a major hindrance in taking action, however in Karnataka in 95% of the cases investigated, sanctions were rec’d for prosecution.
However real problem is long delays in trial and low conviction rates. Most cases under trial are more than 5 years old. Further only in 16 cases convictions have taken place, which is around 20% of the completed cases. In other words 80% cases have not been convicted. This does not compare favourably with criminal convictions in India in anti-corruption cases, which is between 34-40%.
Thus during current debate on Lokpal, while a lot of energies are being spent on coverage of persons and what powers the Lokpal will have, no thought is being spared on how to get a better conviction rate.