The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday recommended that the constitutional functionaries need to take conscious and unanimous decision to recommend persons with the track record of integrity, competence and fair, both on the public and personal life to the posts of Lokayukta and Upalokayukta.
The court also said that appointments to these posts should be non-political, transparent, uninfluenced by caste, creed, etc., and should not be to accommodation centre for anybody.
A Division Bench comprising Justice B. Veerappa and Justice K.S. Hemalekha made these observations in its judgment of setting aside creation of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
“It is also not in dispute that at one point of time, since the son of the Lokayukta was involved in corruption charges, the Lokayukta was made to resign and that has become possible, in view of the provisions of the KL Act and PC Act. Such was the independence of the Lokayukta and its effective functioning in the matters of utmost importance from the date of the inception of the Lokayukta in the year 1986,” the Bench observed.
Also, the Bench said that there is an immediate necessity to amend provisions of the KL Act to make it binding for the Government to act on the recommendations made by the Lokayukta against a public servant after holding an investigation.
“The legislative intent behind the KL Act is to see that public servants covered by the sweep of the Act should be answerable for their actions as such to the Lokayukta and Upalokayukta and such authorities should be armed with appropriate powers and sanctions so that their orders and opinions do not become ‘mere paper directions.’ Therefore, it is high time for the State government to strengthen the institution of Lokayukta and Upalokayukta and get back its glory”, the Bench observed.
The Bench also suggested that KL police wing should be strengthened by appointing/deputing honest persons with track record of integrity and fairness. The police personnel working in ACB can be transferred to KL police wing under the administrative and exclusive disciplinary control of Lokayukta.
The police personnel who are at present working in the ACB shall be transferred to KL police wing in order to strengthen the latter and such officers would be under the administrative and exclusive disciplinary control of Lokayukta.
The Bench also suggested that officers and officials, who assist the Lokayukta and Upalokayuktas in discharge of their functions shall not be transferred for a minimum period of three years, without the consent of Lokayukta/Upalokayukta.
‘ACB has not acted against any Minister’
The High Court has said that the material placed on record clearly depicts that the ACB has not registered any criminal cases against the Ministers, MPs, MLAs or MLCs, but only registered a few cases against some authorities and conducted raids.
No material is produced by the government or the ACB to prove that ACB is more powerful than Lokayukta for the purpose of improving the standards of public administration, and to curb corruption and favouritism, the court said while noticing a large number of cases registered by the KL police wing against Ministers, MLAs, MLCs for corruption and related offences.
“The ACB is constituted virtually to defeat the very purpose of PC Act itself. The State is bent upon saving its corrupt Ministers and officers and therefore the impugned executive government order and subsequent supporting notifications are contrary to the very object of the KL Act,” the Bench observed.
During 2011, the Lokayukta while exercising powers under the provisions of KL Act and PC Act has made the then Chief Minister and a Minister, who were in power at the relevant point of time to resign and created history in the State of Karnataka and has become a model to the entire country, the court pointed out.