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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Karnataka ACB should be brought under Lokayukta, says watchdog’s outgoing chief

The Lokayukta is an independent body instituted to redress public grievances related to government employees, but lost its teeth in 2016 when the state government transferred investigative powers to the ACB, which reports to the chief secretary.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
Updated: January 25, 2022 7:08:21 am
Karnataka ACB should be brought under Lokayukta, says watchdog’s outgoing chiefKarnataka Lokayukta Justice P Vishwanatha Shetty during the press brief. (PTI)

Karnataka’s outgoing Lokayukta chief, Justice P Vishwanath Shetty, has said that public interest demands the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), which has investigative powers, be brought under the independent watchdog.

“Previously Lokayukta had the powers to investigate cases under the Anti-Corruption Act, but later the ACB was established. It would be better if the ACB is with the Lokayukta and not under the state government. A writ petition is pending before the high court and it is sad news that it is yet to be disposed of,” Justice Shetty said on Monday. He will complete his term on Thursday.

The Lokayukta is an independent body instituted to redress public grievances related to government employees, but lost its teeth in 2016 when the state government transferred investigative powers to the ACB, which reports to the chief secretary.

“Twenty-six cases which were recommended for prosecution have been rejected, and in 10 cases the Lokayukta is yet to get a response. We have also sent a proposal to the government to suspend the membership of the city corporation’s elected representatives for six years if they are found guilty in a case of corruption,” Justice Shetty said.

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The state’s Lokyukta had drawn national attention when Justice N Santosh Hegde headed it, between 2006 and 2011, after Chief Minister B S Yedyiurappa was arrested in a corruption case. A report on illegal mining submitted during Hegde’s term had also made national headlines. The corruption cases were one of the factors that led to the fall of the BJP government in the 2013 elections.

In 2016 the credibility of Lokayukta took a massive hit when Justice Y Bhaskar Rao resigned as its chief after extortion allegations were levelled against him and his son. In the same year, the investigative powers were transferred to the ACB.

 

Justice Shetty was appointed as Lokayukta chief on 25 January 2017 on the recommendation of six constitutional authorities. In 2018 a man entered his chamber and stabbed him. Recalling the incident, Shetty said, “Though I had a job with a better income, I came here to serve the public. I had not realised the magnitude of this post but I understood when I was attacked.”

During his term, 20,199 complaints have been disposed of and 2,677 departmental enquiries completed. And 13,000 miscellaneous complaints have been registered, of which 12,000 have been disposed of.

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