The Karnataka government has sought the opinion of its Legal Department in connection with the High Court order nullifying the order for setting up the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and restoring all powers to the Lokayukta.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday said that he had instructed Law Minister J.C. Madhuswamy and the Advocate General to study the order passed by the High Court regarding the closure of ACB and submit a report. “Based on the report, a future course of action will be taken,” he said.
He said that the matter of closing the ACB has been discussed informally at the cabinet meeting. “BJP will take a call on this matter as per its assurances in its poll manifesto,” he said.
The BJP promised to close down the ACB in its election manifesto. However, since the matter was in the court, no decision was taken in this regard.
“Now the court itself has closed down the ACB. If it is necessary, the government will pass laws…,” Bommai said.
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday had nullified the order of formation of the ACB by the then Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in 2016.
A division bench of Justice B. Veerappa and Justice K.S. Hemalekha had given the order on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) questioning the cancellation of police station status to the Lokayukta agency and the formation of ACB.
The court also brought the ACB under the jurisdiction of the Lokayukta.
The bench had observed that there is need to amend the Lokayukta Act and the staff and officers have to be appointed for 3 years. The appointment to the post of the Lokayukta and Upa Lokayukta must be done on the basis of eligibility, not on the basis of caste, it said.
It also stated that the persons alleged of corruption should not escape and Lokayukta police will have to conduct the investigation. Reinstating the police station status of the Lokayukta, the court directed that all cases of ACB should be handed over to Lokayukta.
It was alleged that the order to set up the ACB was set up to render the Lokayukta toothless, in collusion with politicians of all major parties, so as to evade allegations against them. After the formation of the ACB, the respective governments gained total control over the institution and treated it like a puppet, it was alleged.