Highway liquor ban: Karnataka Chief Minister, excise ministry accused of corruption
An activist in Bengaluru has filed a complaint against Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the state's excise department. The complainant has accused Siddaramaiah and his excise department officials of indulging in brazen corrupt practices over renewal, cancellation of liquor licences throughout the state. The ministry is headed by Siddaramaiah himself.
In a complaint filed with the Anti-Corruption Bureau on Tuesday, Ravi Krishna Reddy, a member of Lanchamuktha Karnataka Nirmana Vedike alleged that widescale corruption had taken place in the last one week with excise department misusing confusion over Supreme Court order banning the sale of liquor on highways. "As anti-corruption activists, we have come across disturbing information that the Excise Department has already indulged in widespread corruption in the whole exercise of renewing and cancelling liquor licenses. In few cases the department headed by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has deliberately and wrongfully refused ti renew the licenses with the sole intention of subsequently extracting bribes from vendors," said Ravi Krishna Reddy.
The complaint also alleges that in some cases, the Excise department is extracting huge sums of money to renew licenses on the frivolous pretext of their shops violating Supreme Court's order despite there being no violation. "Under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, a public official owes a duty to explain why he would first refuse to renew a license only to change his stand a few days later, Failure to do so in a case where the beneficiary benefits illegally would amount to an act of corruption under sections 13(1) (d) (iii)," Reddy added.
The Complainant held that since the department came under the direct control of the Chief Minister, he should be held responsible for misdeeds of his officials. He sought the anti-corruption bureau's intervention which is incidentally also headed by Siddaramaiah after the Congress government disbanded Lokayukta police that probed corruption allegations earlier in the state. The complainant has asked ACB to probe the matter and question those involved including the Chief Minister. " Simply because it is headed by the Chief Minister, if the ACB refuses to take the complaint seriously or initiate a probe, we will approach the Supreme Court," the complainant said.