The truth about ACB: PART 2

02aEver heard of the saying, “if you repeat a lie long enough, it comes to be known as the truth”. The paid media and the opposition have together sung so many lies regarding the Anti-Corruption Bureau in a rare musical coordination, hoping that they will be accepted as the truth.

The opposition has mounted a rabid baseless campaign to malign the Anti-Corruption Bureau and its formation by the Congress government. So under heaps of lies and misinformation spread by the BJP, let’s look at the real facts!

#3. ACB has no powers to take up investigation against corrupt public officers independently and the Chief Minister will usurp all powers.

#3. The ACB will be a statutory authority to investigate graft offences, in addition to the existing Lokayukta. The ACB has been placed under the direct supervision of the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) where a vigilance wing, headed by a secretary-level officer will be in charge of the new body and will report to the chief minister through the chief secretary.

ACB will be headed by an Additional Director General of Police-rank officer. It will have an IGP rank officer, 10 superintendents of police and a 322-member force. It has the powers to investigate corrupt officers, and doesn’t get usurped by the Chief Minister. This charge is misleading and only goes on to create anxiety among the people.

#4 Why is the ACB being formed at this time?

#4 Many serious concerns have been raised over the issue of the misuse of office by the Lokayukta, to effect police investigation, as was brought to light in the Bhaskar Rao case, where official power was blatantly misused.

In the past, the investigations conducted by the Lokayukta police wing into the PC Act offences have been questioned through writ petitions. 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 police investigations, but also upheld the autonomy of the investigation machinery.

There was an urgent 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 utilize the services of any agency of the government including the newly created ACB. So this move will bring about division of powers and better coordination and improve accountability of legislative and investigative bodies in cases of corruption.

So, no matter how many layers of lies pile up, one pinch of logic is enough to decimate the hollow claims of the naysayers and rumor-mongers of the opposition.

The truth about ACB: PART 1

02aEver heard of the saying, “if you repeat a lie long enough, it comes to be known as the truth”. The paid media and the opposition have together sung so many lies regarding the Anti-Corruption Bureau in a rare musical coordination, hoping that they will be accepted as the truth.

The opposition has mounted a rabid baseless campaign to malign the Anti-Corruption Bureau and its formation by the Congress government. So under heaps of lies and misinformation spread by the BJP, let’s look at the real facts!

#1 Formation of the ACB will take away the powers of the Lokayukta

#1 The Karnataka Lokayukta Act 1984 (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 Anti-Corruption Act 1988 (PC Act) provides for empowering police authorities with the powers to investigate crimes of corruption. Formation of the ACB will streamline powers of civil and criminal cases between the Lokayukta and the Anti-Corruption bureau. It needs to be remembered that even at present, the Lokayukta doesn’t have investigatory powers. Those powers lie with the Lokayukta police, which is a separate institutional body. So the argument that the ACB will take away powers from the Lokayukta is completely bogus, because its powers lie in the criminal domain, where Lokayukta doesn’t have any jurisdiction.

Further, if at all the opposition thinks that the structure of the ACB should be such that it promote greater transparency, then instead of the blind opposing, it should suggest positive measures to help create a stronger and more autonomous ACB. The opposition’s naysaying is part of the politics of blind negativity and antagonism.

#2 There is no need for ACB, because there is no confusion between the power of the Lokayukta and the Lokayukta police

#2). At present, the powers of investigation into crimes of corruption have been entrusted by the state government to the Police wing of the Karnataka Lokayukta. The lokayukta police wing has a dual responsibility of assisting the lokayukta under Section 15(1) of the KLA and investigating offences, under Section 17 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, on which the police have to act independent of the lokayukta.

This double responsibility of the lokayukta police emerges from the existence of two separate anti-corruption laws, which has resulted in the Lokaukta police coming under the supervision of the lokayukta, thus giving rise to confusion about roles and responsibilities of the respective institutions.

The formation of the ACB will clearly spell out the different roles and responsibilities of the Lokayukta and the ACB, to make the process of adjudicating and investigating cases of corruption more transparent and orderly.