Karnataka goes to polls on May 12 and the battle is without a doubt a heated one. There are several constituencies which would witness a keenly contested battle, especially those where the three Chief Ministerial candidates, Siddaramaiah, B S Yeddyurappa and H D Kumaraswamy would be contesting from.
The moment a case is filed against a politician the instant reaction is to seek his resignation for which ever post he is holding. Yesterday it was the case of three former Chief Ministers of Karnataka against whom an FIR was lodged in connection with the illegal mining case.
The question is when should a person in power step down when certain charges are made against him. The case on hand dealt with a private complaint filed in the court of the Karnataka Lokayukta in which it was alleged that S M Krishna, N Dharam Singh and H D Kumaraswamy had helped certain companies carry out illegal mining activities as a result of which a huge loss was caused to the exchequer of the state. The Lokayukta police after filing an FIR will now prepare a report and submit the same by January 6 as per the directive of the court.
Justice Santhosh Hegde, former Lokayukta of Karnataka who filed a detailed report on illegal mining just before his retirement says that the issue of stepping down in the wake of an FIR being filed should be looked at in three different ways.
On the question as to why S M Krishna did not find a mention in his report, he said he did not wish to comment. I do not want politicians attributing anything to me and if I do speak on the issue then there is every chance that it would happen. All I can say is that my report speaks for itself and there is nothing more to it. I have probed each and every angle to the case and have put up a comprehensive report. Anything more spoken on the issue would be construed wrongly and it could be well said that I had left out some names on purpose in my report.
Regarding this issue of men in power stepping down after cases are filed against them, then it should be looked at in different ways. When there is a charge against a person in public life and the charge shows that his or her behaviour has been nothing but that of a corrupt one then in that case they ought to step down. I for one believe that the concept innocent until proven guilty should not hold good for public issues since these are issues involving moral turpitude.
The other thing that needs to be looked into is whether there is mere mud slinging against a person in public office. In such cases the no decision should be taken until the court frames charges. The police need to file an FIR, investigate the matter and then file a chargesheet with documentary evidence. Once the charges are studied by the court and the charges framed and a prima facie case is made out until then there should be no decision on the person stepping down. The point is that each complaint needs to be studied properly before any action is taken.
However what I would also like to add is that in cases where a private party has thrown a charge the question of stepping down does not hold good at all.
Justice Hegde who is also part of the Lok Pak bill drafting panel says that he does not have much hope from the Bill. Something will come out today and according to me at every stage of the drafting process the government appears to have maintained that control regarding the appointment. I have my own apprehensions and I am sure it would be a watered down bill.
We are left with no option but to protest. However I don’t think protesting for a change in every section of the bill is feasible. Let us wait and see. If the need be we will seek an amendment accordingly.