State gets ACB to probe graft cases

State gets ACB to probe graft cases

The State government has created an Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to exclusively investigate offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. This power hitherto rested with the police-wing of the Lokayukta.

The police wing of Lokayukta will now exclusively assist Lokayukta and Upalokayuktas in carrying out their responsibilities under the Karnataka Lokayukta Act (KLA), 1984. 

The ACB and the police-wing of the Lokayukta will be independent and autonomous.
Official orders on the constitution of the ACB was issued by the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms on Monday evening.

The ACB will be headed by a police officer of the rank of Additional Director General of Police and will have a staff strength of 322. The government, last year, had tried to separate the police wing of the Lokayukta through the legislation route, but withdrew the same after public outcry.

The government has defended its decision on constituting ACB, stating that dual responsibility of the Lokayukta police wing of assisting the Lokayukta under section 15(1) of the KLA and investigating Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act offences under Section 17 of the PC Act (on which the police have to act independent of the Lokayukta), had resulted in confusion.

The KLA empowered Lokayukta to inquire into complaints against public servants, but does not provide for criminal investigations into cases of corruption by public servants and others.

The PC Act provides for empowering police authorities with powers to investigate corruption cases. However, the Supreme Court in the C Rangaswamaiah vs Karnataka Lokayukta case held that police officers investigating cases under PC Act are autonomous and just because they are deputed to Karnataka Lokayukta, “master-servant relationship” between the police officers and the government does not end.

Based on the judgment, the High Court, in a number of cases, held that the Lokayukta does not have jurisdiction to supervise criminal investigation under PC Act conducted by the Lokayukta police wing. The government has hence, decided to separate these two roles by creating ACB.

An official order to create a vigilance wing with officers in each of the departments and boards and corporations was also issued. The move follows a directive by the High Court. The vigilance officers will be empowered to receive complaints/grievances against officials of respective departments and look into the same for providing speedy remedies.

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