Loknath Behera, who was the Director General of Police (DGP) of Kerala until Saturday, took charge as the Director of the Kerala Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau on Monday. His appointment comes after the Kerala government reinstated Behera's predecessor TP Senkumar as the DGP following Supreme Court orders to this effect.
Loknath Behera was given the additional charge of Director of Vigilance, after the state government asked Vigilance chief Jacob Thomas to go on leave from March 31. The government took the latter move after the Kerala High Court asked why Jacob Thomas hadnâ€™t been removed from the post, since the VACB was interfering in matters that come under the purview of the judiciary and legislature. The officer had extended his leave by another month on May 2.
Speaking to reporters after assuming office, Loknath Behera said, "Training in anti-corruption work is a must. This is not like law and order issues, it needs to be taught to them (the vigilance unit). Our government has a policy of zero tolerance to corruption and I will try my best from the enforcement side. Preventive vigilance is a very important subject."
Observing that the Vigilance unit was a small one with only a thousand people across all ranks, Behera said that he would take measures to increase its personnel strength. He added that he would approach vigilance cases with a fresh mind, without preconceived notions and assured mediapersons that he had "no targets."
Asked about the sudden rejig in the force, Behera said that transfers were the prerogative of the government.
"Who should be appointed to what post, those are the decisions taken by the government and we officers are bound to accept it. I take it as a government process. Nobody is inevitable," he remarked.
While several media reports quote unnamed sources to speculate that it is highly unlikely that Jacob Thomas will return to government service, the officer himself has not made any statements on the matter.
Watch Loknath Behera addressing a press meet after assuming office: