Friday, 18 March 2016
Blow to Lokayukta as government sets up Anti-Corruption Bureau
In a move that could effectively end even the promise of an independent probe into corruption cases against public servants, hitherto carried out by the Lokayukta police, the State government on Monday, through a GO, wrested the powers of investigation under the Prevention of Corruption Act from the Lokayukta police wing.
The State government has now created an Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) which will work under its direct supervision, to probe cases of corruption against public servants, raising serious questions about the independent nature of such investigations.
ACB to be headed by an Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP)-rank officer is seen by experts as “a dangerous throwback” to the days before the Karnataka Lokayukta Act was enacted in 1984. An ACB under the Home Department was working as a watchdog within the government then. While the Lokayukta police were independent of the Lokayukta in probes under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Lokayukta remained the administrative head of the police wing as well, providing a buffer to carry out independent probes against political bigwigs, such as former chief ministers.
The Lokayukta police wing will now be reduced to assisting the Lokayukta in their probes, under the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1988, which even the former Lokayuktas agree is toothless in fighting corruption.
The move will effectively make Lokayukta redundant. This is part of the concerted efforts by the State government to weaken the institution of Lokayukta. Emboldened by the bribery scandal precipitated by the former Lokayukta, Y. Bhaskar Rao, the government is misusing the circumstance to essentially weaken the institution.
N. Santosh Hegdeformer Lokayukta
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