Good sense prevails
The Karnataka government has finally relented and handed over the investigation into Indian Administrative Service officer DK Ravi’s death to the Central Bureau of Investigation. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah accused opposition parties of politicising the death of the IAS officer and stated that he was referring the case to the CBI, since Ravi’s parents had also made a request. The decision, though, comes after Congress President Sonia Gandhi had asked the chief minister to hand over the investigation to the CBI. According to Ravi’s colleagues in the Commercial Tax Department, the upstanding IAS officer was chasing builders in Bangalore, who had been evading taxes for years. Among some of the real estate companies he pursued were the Embassy Group, partly owned by state home minister KJ George, and Sobha Developers, which has close links with former minister DK Shivakumar. The Karnataka government’s initial decision, therefore, to leave the investigation to the State Criminal Investigation Department, which functions under the State Home Minister, presented a clear case of conflict of interest. In the growing perception battle, Siddaramaiah was probably left with no choice other than to hand over the investigation to the CBI. Despite mass media coverage of the incident, there is nothing that the system or those outside do to protect, support or guide such conscientious officers. The consequences of battling official corruption are significant. The most frequent mode of harassment of civil servants is the dreaded transfer. As soon an honest civil servant begins to find his feet in a new posting, he/she is abruptly transferred and promptly replaced by a more supine civil servant. Ashok Khemka, who has an impeccable reputation for probity, has been transferred a record 45 times in his 21 year odd career as a bureaucrat. The threat to life, however, has just raised the stakes. It is now imperative that the CBI now gets to the bottom of it.