The complaint filed against Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah with the State’s Lokayukta charging him with abusing his position by effecting transfers of police officers on the basis of recommendation letters issued by politicians must be investigated without fear or favour. The complainant, V Shashidhar, of Akhila Karnataka Police Mahasangha had earlier filed a writ petition in the high court in which he had submitted that 167 recommendation letters were issued by the chief minister and 27 ministers between 2014 and 2016. But the court dismissed the petition and gave Shashidhar an option of approaching the Lokayukta court.
In many states political interference in police transfers is rampant. In many cases, huge amounts of money changes hands in such transfers. It is in this context that the Supreme Court had directed through a judgement in the Prakash Singh case in 2006 that State governments must constitute a Police Establishment Board to deal with transfers of police officers. The intention was to break the politician-policeman nexus. Political interference has made the board virtually defunct in Karnataka.
The Lokayukta must pursue the matter against the chief minister with all seriousness. Those ministers who were part of the racket in terms of giving recommendations for transfers must also be duly investigated and brought to book. Karnataka has in various surveys been identified as one of the most corrupt states in the country. The chief minister himself is arrogant and abrasive, the most recent example of these traits being the manner in which he reportedly insists on retaining the red beacon on his cars and convoy vehicles. This apart, it is time a stop be put to political interference in police transfers. If the Lokayukta finds merit in the charge that he is investigating he must act proactively to redress this issue.