Bengaluru: A Division Bench of Karnataka High Court abolished the State Government-controlled Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Police and revived the anti-corruption Police unit attached to Karnataka Lokayukta, which works independently without any State control.
In 2016, the Congress Government led by Siddharamaiah formed the ACB, curtailing the powers of the Lokayukta. The Court said, “The Government Order constituting the ACB is unsustainable, suffers from malafides and legal infirmities.”
The Bench of Justices B. Veerappa and K.S. Hemalekha issued the order in the course of its judgement in a series of petitions filed against the creation of ACB, following allegations of deep corruption in Lokayukta.
The HC order quashed a notification issued by the then Congress Government on March 14, 2016, to create the ACB and also subsequent notifications transferring power to probe corruption cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, from the Karnataka Lokayukta Police to the ACB. The HC said that “the Anti-Corruption Bureau is abolished” with this order.
“All inquiries, investigations and other disciplinary proceedings pending before ACB will get transferred to the Lokayukta. However, all inquiries, investigations, disciplinary proceedings, orders of convictions/acquittals and all other proceedings held by ACB till today are hereby saved and the Police Wing of Karnataka Lokayukta shall proceed from the stage at which they are pending as of today, in accordance with the law,” the Bench ruled.
The Court said it is “high time” the State Government strengthened the institution of Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta and got back their “glory”. It observed that the institution of Lokayukta has been reduced to being “paper tigers” by the March 14, 2016 executive order to transfer Police powers to ACB.
The order for abolishing the ACB relates to cases filed in 2016 by the Advocates Association of Bengaluru, the Samaj Parivartana Samudaya, and advocate Chidananda Urs over Lokayukta powers being given to ACB.