ACB: Karnataka sets up new body against Lokayukta

15 Mar 2016 | Written by Vaneet Randhawa; Edited by Gaurav
Karnataka Lokayukta: Losing its sheen

The state government has created an Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), headed by a police officer reporting to the government with the stated objective of bringing about greater transparency.

With the formulation of this new institution, the ACB will be the legal authority to examine offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

However, critics see this as a move to weaken the Lokayukta.

In context: Karnataka Lokayukta: Losing its sheen

1984History of Karnataka's Lokayukta

Karnataka was the first Indian state to formulate an independent Lokayukta in 1984 to readdress public grievances of corruption.

Karnataka Lokayukta had powers to even investigate legislators and ministers in the event of corruption.

Ramakrishna Hegde (then CM) brought the State Vigilance Commission which was headed by a police officer, under the Lokayukta purview as the Commission was not working to the government's satisfaction.

Strongest Lokayukta

The Karnataka Lokayukta was considered "as the strongest Lokayukta in the country".
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Karnataka Lokayukta Act (KLA) and the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA)

Legislations Karnataka Lokayukta Act (KLA) and the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA)

The Karnataka Lokayukta Act (KLA) and the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) were the two legislations at work in Karnataka.

The KLA gave the Lokayukta authority to inquire into complaints against public servants, but it couldn't launch criminal investigations.

The PCA vested police officials with authority to investigate cases of corruption.

While acting under PCA, police had to operate independently of the Lokayukta.

Confusion over dual responsibility of Lokayukta police

The dual responsibility of the Lokayukta police wing included it 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.

15 Mar 2016ACB: Karnataka sets up new body against Lokayukta

322 cops to be under ACB's command

The ACB will have 322 police members, headed by an "ADGP-rank police officer, 1 Inspector-General of Police, 10 superintendents of police, 35 deputy superintendents of police, 75 police inspectors and 200 head constables".
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Criticism Justice N Santosh Hegde slams Karnataka government's move

The move to create ACB was lambasted by former Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde who has called it a "systematic destruction of the institution by the political class to protect themselves."

Hegde said that the change now permits the ACB to report to the home minister, who in turn comes under the CM which makes the Lokayukta toothless.

22 Mar 2016Won't withdraw ACB: Siddaramaiah

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah rejected the opposition's demand for withdrawing the newly formed Anti-Corruption Bureau, maintaining that there was no intention to weaken the Lokayukta.

However, Siddaramaiah said he was willing to discuss ways to strengthen the Lokayukta institution with the opposition.

The BJP said they would take their opposition outside the house, to ensure smooth parliamentary proceedings to tackle issues in the state.

7 Apr 2016Newly created Anti-corruption bureau partially stayed by Karnataka HC

The Karnataka HC partially stayed the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

The HC said that the corruption cases being examined by the state Lokayukta and the ones whose access was sought by ACB shouldn't be transferred.

The court's decision came despite the state government's assurance that the creation of ACB was to aid in the speedy disposal of pending cases and would not affect the Lokayukta.