The Karnataka government’s future course of action on dissolution of the state’s Anti-Corruption Bureau will be based on the election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Friday, PTI reported.
On Thursday, the Karnataka High Court abolished the Anti-Corruption Bureau which had been formed in 2016 to investigate graft charges against public servants.
The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government, which was then in power, had formed the agency by withdrawing powers vested with the state Lokayukta to look into corruption cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
Until then, the Lokayukta, with its own police wing, was the premier anti-corruption agency in the state.
In its manifesto for the 2018 Assembly elections, the BJP had promised to disband the Anti-Corruption Bureau, PTI reported.
“Yesterday the High Court gave its decision regarding the ACB,” Bommai said on Friday, ahead of a Cabinet meeting. “Keeping our party manifesto in mind, we will discuss in the Cabinet today, taking view of the instructions given in the court’s order copy.”
Meanwhile, former Commissioner of Bengaluru City Police and Aam Aadmi Party leader Bhaskar Rao took a dig at the BJP, saying that the party had “lost a golden opportunity” to claim credit for the dissolution of the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Siddaramaiah wrote on Twitter that he respects the court’s judgement.
“ACB, an independent investigative agency, was established in many states of the country, similarly in our state,” the former chief minister wrote. “Today the High Court of Karnataka has ordered to quash the ACB, and I respect this order of the court.”
The High Court judgement
On Thursday, the Karnataka High Court observed that the Anti-Corruption Bureau had been constituted to shield corrupt politicians, ministers, and officers from the watchful eyes of the Lokayukta.
A division bench of Justices B Veerappa and KS Hemalekha directed the Anti-Corruption Bureau to transfer the cases and officers under its ambit to the Karnataka Lokayukta.
The judges also said it was unfortunate that even after 75 years of Independence, no political party in the country is willing to allow independent authority, like the Lokayukta, to discharge its duties in a transparent manner.
The order was passed on three separate public interest litigations by an advocate named Chidananda Urs, Advocates’ Association of Bangalore and non-governmental organisation Samaja Parivarthana Samudaya. All of them had challenged the constitution of the Anti-Corruption Bureau.