Bengaluru, March 14 (Karnataka Information) : The State Government has created an Anti Corruption Bureau in its effort to give transperent and efficient administration.
The Karnataka Lokayukta Act 1984 (KLA) and the Anti Corruption Act 1988 (PC Act) are two different legislations. The KLA empowers the Lokayukta to inquire into complaints against public servants, but does not provide for criminal investigations into cases corruption by public servants and others. The PC Act provides for empowering police authorities with the powers to investigate crimes of corruption.
The powers of investigation into crimes of corruption have been entrusted by the state government to the Police wing of the Karnataka Lokayukta. However, the Supreme Court in the C. Rangaswamaiah vs Karnataka Lokayukta, 1988, case has held that the police officers investigating cases under PC Act are autonomous and just because they are deputed to the Karnataka Lokayukta the master servant relationship between the police officers invested with the powers to investigate PC Act offences and the Government does not end. Based on the Rangaswamaiah judgement the High Court of Karnataka in a number of cases has held that the Lokayukta does not have jurisdiction to supervise over criminal investigation in PC Act conducted by the Lokayukta police wing.
The decision of the Government taken in the past to give the Lokayukta police wing dual responsibility of assisting the Lokayukta under section 15(1) of the KLA and investigating PC Act offences under section 17 of the PC Act, on which the Police have to act independent of the Lokayukta, has resulted in the police investigation machinery coming under thesupervision of the Lokayukta thus giving rise to confusion about roles and responsibilities of the respective institutions.
The Government has therefore decided to separate these two roles by creating a new Anti Corruption Bureau on the same pattern as the central government. With the creation of this new institution, the ACB will be the statutory authority to investigate PC Act offences; the current Police wing of the Karnataka Lokayukta will exclusively assist the Lokayukta and the Upa Lokayuktas in carrying out the responsibilities under the KLA.
The High Court of Karnataka passes an order on 8.02.2016 in Writ Petition directing the State Government to create Vigilance wings in each of the departments of the Government. The government has accordingly decided to create vigilance wing in the government with vigilance officers in each of the departments and boards and corporations.
This is on the pattern of the Vigilance Commission in the central government and some state governments. The vigilance officers will be empowered to receive complaints / grievances against the officials of the respective departments and look into the same for providing speedy remedies.Detailed guidelines will be issued in due course.
The High Court of Karnataka has also directed the state government to prepare and issue a police manual for the Police Wing of the Lokayukta to lay down detailed processes and procedure for conducting investigations in to offences under the PC Act. A Police Manual for investigations in to PC Act offences has been prepared and will shortly be notified.
A Vigilance Advisory Board has been created to guide and supervise the vigilance mechanism of the government and to guide and administratively supervise the functioning the Vigilance officers and the ACB.
Why create a separate ACB when the Police Wing of the Lokayukta is already doing the job?
Investigation into the PC Act offences is a police job and it should be supervised by superior police officers. The Bureau of Investigation was earlier autonomous with the ADGP enjoying the powers of a head of the department. However, through a series of Government Orders the ADGP and the police wing were brought under the administrative control of the Lokayukta. While this served the purposes of the KLA, through a series of Writ Petitions the investigations conducted by the Lokayukta police wing into the PC Act offences were challenged. The matter was agitated in the High Court and in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court settled this issue in Rangaswamaiah’s case and upheld the investigations, but also upheld the autonomy of the investigation machinery. However, when there is direct administrative and financial control in the hands of an authority which does not have supervisory powers of a superior police officer, then accountability mechanism becomes weak. This gives rise to a situation of authority without accountability.
There was a need to correct the situation and strengthen the entire grievance redressal and anti corruption mechanism by having two police wings: one for the Lokayukta and another for Anti-Corruption. The two wings will be independent and autonomous of each other; yet the Karnataka Lokayukta will continue to enjoy the power given under section 15(3) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act to utilise the services of any agency of the government including the newly created ACB, according to an official press release.