Govt mulling over changes to make ACB 'workable'

Govt mulling over changes to make ACB 'workable'

Govt mulling over changes  to make ACB 'workable'

Under fire from within and outside over the creation of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the state government is mulling over a few changes to the new law to ensure that it fits within the legal and administrative parameters.

The meeting convened by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday to discuss bringing in a few changes to make the ACB ‘workable’ was deferred to Tuesday.

Sources said the government will review a few ‘tricky’ issues like the role of the Vigilance Advisory Board, ACB police working under the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR), seeking prior permission from higher officials to file a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 (PC Act) against any official.

The meeting will also discuss who the ACB should function under – the chief minister or the home minister.

The police personnel deputed to the ACB work under the DPAR headed by a newly created ‘vigilance wing’ to be headed by a secretary-level officer which is in contravention of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963 (KPA).

Section 3 of the Karnataka Police Act 1963 states that there shall be one police force for the whole state. “There shall be one police Force (including the State Reserve Police Force established under Section 145) for the whole of the state.’’

A source pointed out that bringing those deputed to the ACB under the DPAR amounts to creation of a parallel force which is a clear violation. The government, before creating the ACB, had cited the same reason to separate the police force from the Lokayukta.

“There is no supervision mechanism over the police officers under the Police Wing of the Karnataka Lokayukta investigating offences under the PC Act. Under the Karnataka Police Act, for the entire state there should be a single police system,” the government said in a note prepared on the ACB.

The government is now reconsidering bringing the ACB under the administrative control of the Director General and Inspector General of Police - under the Home Department.

Similarly, the government is also reconsidering the decision to create the vigilance advisory board, which was to monitor the ACB. “How can an advisory board monitor the police work? It will not have any legal sanctity in the court of law,’’ an officer pointed. 

Moreover, the Karnataka High Court had never mentioned the creation of a vigilance advisory board. “The court just mentioned about creating vigilance cells in each department,” the officer said.

Another controversial decision to seek prior permission of a superior officer before filing a case against one’s subordinate was against the PC Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure will be reconsidered at the meeting. A source said that the government was planning to restrict the prior permission to a select few. But a decision is yet to be taken on such class of people.
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