BENGALURU: Taking the state government to task for not restoring powers to the Lokayukta police to probe pending corruption cases, the High Court on Wednesday asked the Additional Advocate General (AAG) to seek instructions from the government on the issue by Thursday.
Justice A N Venugopala Gowda warned the government that the culprit will take advantage of the situation if the powers are not restored in the light of Tuesday’s order of a division bench which asked the Lokayukta police to continue the probe.
This was after Lokayukta public prosecutor Venkatesh P Dalwai filed a memo along with the letter written by Lokayukta ADGP to the Home Department on Wednesday. He requested them to restore the investigation as well as police station powers to the Lokayukta police so that they can resume probe.
Justice Gowda is hearing a criminal petition on delay in investigation by the Lokayukta police.
Justice Gowda said, “The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), which was created overnight, is not a pilot project. As per the Supreme Court verdict, the state cannot create a new system (ACB) in an adhoc manner while simultaneously demolishing the existing system (Lokayukta police wing).”
“ Accordingly, the dream of this court is to safeguard public interest and not to take on the state government as an opponent on the issue. The state cannot delay issuing communication in corruption cases as there are possibilities of destruction of evidence,” he added.
This was after AAG A S Ponnanna defended the notification withdrawing the powers of investigation of corruption cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act given to the Lokayukta police and the police station status.
Ponnanna argued, “There is no need to issue a communication to the Lokayukta police to continue investigation of pending cases. Lokayukta police can continue accordingly. The very issue before the court is that of creating the ACB. If powers restored to the Lokayukta police is for limited purpose, then there will be two police stations -- one for the Lokayukta and the other for ACB. Therefore, the state government is examining the interim order of the division bench to decide whether to appeal before the apex court against the order.”
Unhappy with this, Justice Gowda asked the AAG not to confront the court as it involves public interest. “How can they investigate if the powers are not restored?” he asked.
Justice Gowda also asked the Lokayukta police why they have still not started the probe. “Go ahead with the investigation.... What is the need for a communication from the government to begin probe if the court order is followed?” he asked Dalwai. Further hearing was adjourned to Thursday.
‘Lokayukta Cops Are on Paid Leave’
Justice Gowda directed Lokayukta public prosecutor Dalwai to submit a case-wise schedule of investigation of 750 pending corruption cases on Thursday.
“The 700-odd Lokayukta police personnel are enjoying paid holiday from March 19 as the powers of investigation were withdrawn. What is the amount spent on the institution? This should not go waste. Therefore, submit the details of the schedule of when Lokayukta police will complete the investigation,” he said.