BENGALURU: In a path-breaking judgment, the Karnataka HC on Thursday ordered abolition of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and strengthening of the institution of lokayukta to fight corruption in the state.
All investigations and inquiries conducted by ACB have been saved, and ACB’s pending investigations and inquiries have been transferred to lokayukta police.
On March 14, 2016, the Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah had issued a notification constituting ACB. On March 19, 2016, another notification was issued superseding earlier notifications that gave lokayukta police the powers of investigation under Prevention of Corruption Act and the status of a police station under the provisions of Section 2(S) of the CrPC.
The Advocates Association of Bengaluru, Samaja Parivarthana Samudaya and others had challenged the March 2016 orders through PILs. Allowing the PILs, a division bench comprising Justices B Veerappa and KS Hemalekha noted that ACB was established to “protect and scuttle” the investigations against political class and bu- reaucrats. “The government order constituting ACB as an authority for investigation under the PC Act indirectly defeated the very purpose of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act,” the benchsaid.
The ACB was set up in 2016, a few years after concerted action by the lokayukta saw incarceration of several ministers, including achief minister of the state, over corruption charges.
Noting that ACB was established by means of “an executive order which has no legs to stand”, the court said the bureau cannot perform the duty of police unless it is established by means of a statute.

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