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Engineer facing disproportionate assets case reinstated in same post

B.S. Satish Kumar

I am upset, says Lokayukta, to take up the issue with the Government


BANGALORE: In a move that has upset the Lokayukta, the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) has reinstated an executive engineer against whom the Lokayukta police have booked a case of possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income after raiding his premises. Curiously, the official has been continued in the same post which he held earlier.

The order on continuing the official in the same post, which is said to be one of the most sought-after positions in the State’s power distribution sector, came on Thursday, even as the Lokaukta was conducting a series of fresh raids on the premises of several officials who allegedly had assets totalling almost Rs. 10 crore.

Bescom Executive Engineer (Operation and Maintenance, Bangalore South Division) V. Venkatashiva Reddy had been suspended after the Lokayukta raided his premises on December 19, 2007 and detected assets estimated at Rs. 4 crore which were allegedly disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Although the Lokayukta investigation is on, the official has been re-instated and given the same post.

Eye-witnesses told The Hindu that there was a “festive atmosphere” when the official took charge on Friday, with the office flooded with bouquets and garlands brought by colleagues and friends.

Lokayukta N. Santhosh Hegde is “very upset” by this development. He told The Hindu that there was yet another incident in which the Finance Department had declined to suspend an official who had been “caught red-handed” while receiving bribe. The department had promoted the official.

“This cannot go on. We want the rule of law to prevail,” Mr. Hegde said. He declared that he would take up both the cases with the Government. “We have already received a complaint about reinstating the Bescom official in the same place. I have asked the Additional Director-General of Police (Lokayukta) to look into the issue.”

Mr. Hegde said the State Government had amended the Karnataka Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules-1957 in 2002 to bring about a distinction between a “trap” and “raid” conducted by the Lokayukta police, although both were related to corruption. Accordingly, it was not mandatory to suspend an official if assets disproportionate to his known sources of income were detected. However, the raided official had to be suspended after a charge-sheet was filed. But filing a charge-sheet would take one to one-and-a-half years, he said.

After repeated reminders by him, the Executive Committee headed by Governor Rameshwar Thakur (during the President’s rule) resolved to make it mandatory to suspend raided officials if assets disproportionate to their known sources of income were detected.

But the rule is yet to be notified by the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms, although the last date for filing objections on the notification on the draft rule ended on May 28, he said.

Lokayukta ADGP Rupak Kumar Dutta said it was an “error” to post an officer in the same position in which he had been facing charges of alleged corruption. This could lead to the destruction of vital evidence by the accused, he said.

“We are yet to get any official communication on this case,” he added.

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