Scared of disbanding Lokayukta, govt created ACB: Justice Hegde

Scared of disbanding Lokayukta, govt created ACB: Justice Hegde

Anti-corruption bureau: Experts doubt claims that it was created as per SC order

Scared of disbanding Lokayukta, govt created ACB: Justice Hegde

The State government’s order to take away the anti-corruption work from the Lokayukta institution by setting up a separate Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has drawn criticism from various quarters.

The government order (GO) constituting the ACB stated that it was as per the Supreme Court direction in the case between C Rangaswamaiah vs Karnataka Lokayukta. Though the GO didn’t elaborate on the Apex Court directions, a close look at the GO indicates that the SC order was passed in 1998 and it was on whether the State government could order investigation under Prevention of Corruption Act when the police officers were on deputation to the police wing of the Lokayukta.

The GO stated that State DG&IGP Om Prakash had written a letter on February 3, 2016, based on the 1998 order of the Supreme Court, and suggested constitution of the ACB to deal with cases under Prevention of Corruption Act.

The GO stated that as per Om Prakash’s report, Lokayukta police have dual roles to play; one to assist Lokayukta and Upalokayuktas in the enquiries under the Lokayukta Act and the other to hold investigation under the PC Act. The government has agreed to set up ACB in order to avoid confusion and also to implement the directions given in the Rangaswamaiah case.

Former Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde said that the government could have just regularised corruption instead of setting up such a bureau under the chief minister.

“I will have to refer to the situation prior to 1984 when Karnataka had a State Vigilance Commission, headed by a retired High Court judge and Anti Corruption Bureau headed by senior police officers. The then government headed by Ramakrishna Hegde found this set-up inefficient and merged both the vigilance commission and ACB and created Lokayukta. People should ask the present Siddaramaiah-led government as to how many cases under Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act it has referred to Lokayukta police in the last three years. The truth is that this government wants to disband Lokayukta, but is scared to do so. Instead of doing all this drama, the government can close the Lokayukta institution,” Justice Hegde said.

Supreme Court counsel K V Dhananjaya said, “First of all, no judgment of the Supreme Court has asked this government to disband the Lokayukta police. It is a total lie and it is surprising that this government does not think twice before lying in such a way to the public. All that the Supreme Court had said was that the anti-corruption police should receive special knowledge and training and should therefore, be separated from the regular crime police. That separation took place in Karnataka long ago. The Lokayukta police was also given great independence.”

What the govt order says?

*  Lokayukta police will not, henceforth, investigate cases under Prevention of Corruption Act, while the newly set up Anti-Corruption Bureau with a staff strength of 322 will exclusively handle cases of graft.

* ACB will be autonomous and will be under the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR), which is under the chief minister.

*  The government intends to establish Vigilance Advisory Board headed by the chief secretary, principal secretaries of DPAR, Revenue and others. This board will monitor the work of ACB (except ongoing investigations). 

* The ACB cannot take up investigation against any public servant without obtaining sanction from the sanctioning authority.

‘ACB won’t curb Lokayukta powers’

Home Minister G Parameshwara on Tuesday said the government’s intention was not to curb the authority of the Lokayukta by establishing the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). Replying to questions by the media in Bengaluru, he said the government had constituted the ACB based on the various court orders. This will further help curb corruption, he added. The minister said the government had not amended the Lokayukta Act. In order to handle corruption cases effectively, the responsibility of investigating corruption cases have been separated from the Lokayukta police and entrusted to the ACB. This will help in tackling corruption more effectively. It is wrong to interpret that the authority of the Lokayukta has been clipped, he said.

The law allows filing of complaints against the chief minister and the ministers, he said in response to a question.

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