Karnataka sets up anti-corruption bureau

Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Monday set up an Anti-Corruption Bureau to provide a transparent and efficient administration.

Though Karnataka was the first state to set up an anti-corruption watchdog the Lokayukta (ombudsman) in 1984 under the Karnataka Lokayukta Act (KLA), there is also the Prevention of Corruption Act empowers police to investigate graft charge against officials.

“The KLA and PC Act are different legislations, as the former empowers the quasi-judicial Lokayukta to only inquire into complaints against public servants but does not allow criminal investigation against them and others accused of seeking or taking bribe,” an official statement said here.

Though the state government entrusted the investigation powers into corruption charges to the police wing of the state Lokayukta, the Supreme Court in the C. Rangaswamaiah versus Karnataka Lokayukta case in 1988 held that police officers probing cases under the PC Act were autonomous.

The Karnataka High Court had also held that the Lokayukta did not have the jurisdiction to supervise criminal investigation under the PC Act through its police wing on the basis of the top court’s Rangaswamaiah judgement.

The state government has therefore decided to separate the two roles by forming the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) on the lines of the central government.

“The ACB will be a statutory authority to investigate graft offences, while the ombudsman’s police wing will assist Lokayukta and Upa Lokayuktas in carrying their duties under the KLA,” the statement said.

The state government has also decided to set up vigilance wings in its departments, boards and corporations with vigilance officers, as directed by the high court on February 2.