The High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday asked the State government to respond to an application filed by the Karnataka Lokayukta seeking permission for its police wing to register first information reports (FIRs) and prosecute public servants based on preliminary inquiries conducted on the complaints received from the public that disclose commission of criminal offences.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Suraj Govindraj issued the direction during the hearing of public interest litigation (PIL) petitions, filed in 2016 questioning the legality of the constitution of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) by the State government by withdrawing the powers granted to the Lokayukta police to probe corruption cases against States public servants.
It has been pointed out in the application that the Section 14 of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act empowers the Lokayukta and the Upalokayukta, if satisfied after inquiry into a complaint against public servant that there is commission of criminal offence requiring prosecution, to authorise the Lokayuktas police wing to conduct investigation by registering FIR.
Hence, it has been contended in the application that governments March 19, 2016 notification withdrawing earlier notification that had treated the Lokayukta police wing as a police station to register FIR has no consequence when the Karnataka Lokayukta Act itself empowers the Lokayukta or Upalokyukta to launch criminal prosecution based on inquiries conducted on complaints received from the public.
Absence of power for the Lokayukta police wing to register corruption case in view of the constitution of the ACB has impacted the functioning of the Lokayukta institution as it is unable to launch criminal prosecution against public servants by exercising the powers of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, it has been claimed in the application.