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Labor set for win on anti-corruption body

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The Albanese government’s national anti-corruption watchdog is expected to have broad backing in parliament, despite lingering concerns about the high threshold for public hearings.

Debate on the National Anti-Corruption Commission will continue into the night on Tuesday, with further late sitting hours expected on Wednesday.

The government has put forward several changes to the bill, including greater protections for journalists and their sources and surveillance warrants needing to be approved by eligible judges.

The Coalition has welcomed the amendments but raised concerns with elements of the bill.

Coalition pushes for further safeguards

Shadow attorney-general Julian Leeser said further safeguards were needed to protect the rights of individuals.

“The commission will have extraordinary powers – with those extraordinary powers should be greater accountability,” he told parliament.

“There is a risk the NACC will be misused as a way of causing harm to an individual through vexatious complaints – this risk is particularly heightened if referrals are publicised.”

Under the government’s model, public hearings would only be held in “exceptional circumstances”.

Crossbench call not to reduce public hearings

Crossbench MP Kate Chaney said the high bar for holding public hearings would lessen accountability.

“With the current drafting, public hearings will be few and far between,” she said.

“This test (of exceptional circumstances) is too high and does not take into account the role of public hearings as an investigative, preventative and educative tool against corruption and misconduct.”

Mr Leeser said the default option of having private hearings was where the commission “ought to be”.

Amendments to make commission stronger

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the amendments would make the commission even stronger.

“The bills which have been debated in the house today have benefited from the experience of the existing state and territory commissions over the past three decades,” he said.

“The national model draws on the best elements of those bodies and learns from any shortcomings.”

Independent senator David Pocock has indicated he will support the legislation. Photo: Getty

The government pledged at the May election to legislate an integrity commission before year’s end.

It is likely to be debated in the Senate next week, with extra sitting days approved in an effort for the bill to pass by Christmas.

Independent senators Jacqui Lambie and David Pocock have indicated they will support the government’s legislation to deliver the commission when it reaches the chamber.

Senator Pocock said the public hearings threshold remained an issue but a commission was long overdue.

Senator Lambie said the exceptional circumstances test smacked of a deal between the government and Coalition to ensure bipartisanship.

“We want police on the beat and we want it to get started now,” she told the ABC on Tuesday.

The anti-corruption body is set to cost $262 million over the next four years.

-AAP




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Karnataka gives nod to prosecute ADGP in police recruitment case | Latest News Delhi

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The Karnataka government on Friday issued a circular permitting prosecution of suspended additional general of police (ADGP) Amrit Paul in the police sub-inspector recruitment scam, officials familiar with the development said on Saturday.

Since the accused is a government servant, the government’s permission was necessary to proceed with the prosecution.

“In the background of the facts, circumstances and documents pertaining to the case, the investigation agency has made out a prima facie case against Amrit Paul for his alleged involvement in tampering with OMR sheets and creating false documents by misusing his official position, even though knowing it was illegal and tantamount to cheating. Hence, with the approval of the competent authority, the Government of Karnataka issues the following order to accord permission to prosecute Amrit Paul, then ADGP-recruitment,” read the circular issued by the state government.

Paul is the first officer of ADGP rank — the second-highest rank in the police hierarchy — to be arrested in the state in connection with the corruption case. Paul who was heading the Police Recruitment Cell, Karnataka, was arrested on July 4 after his name cropped up in the ongoing investigation into the PSI scam, where money was taken from candidates to enable them to cheat during their examinations or for tampering their answers sheets after the exam.

Paul has been arrested under Sections 409, 406, 420, 468, 469, 461, 471 and 120 B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for criminal breach of trust by a public servant, criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery, dishonestly breaking open receptacle containing property, using as a genuine forged document or electronic record and criminal conspiracy. He has been placed under suspension under the All-India Services (Discipline & Appeals) Rule, 1969.

The courts have thrice rejected bail to Paul. CID had in September filed a separate 1,406-page charge sheet against him.

According to the charge sheet submitted before the First ACMM court in Bengaluru, Paul is the 35th accused in the scam. CID had submitted 78 records, 38 witnesses against Paul in the charge sheet. Investigations have revealed that Paul had allegedly received a cut of 1.35 crore from candidates to PSI posts.

A CID officer said the involvement of three groups in facilitating the malpractice has emerged so far. The first gang, which included BJP leader Divya Hagargi, was involved in answer sheet tampering using invigilators. The second gang run by Rudragouda Patil operated using Bluetooth devices to give answers to candidates during the examination, while the third gang was of police officers in the recruitment cell, who tampered with the answer sheets kept inside the strong room of the recruitment wing’s office after taking money from candidates.

The probe into the involvement of the recruitment wing officials has revealed that Paul was part of the malpractice. “First of all, on the day the answer sheets arrived at the recruitment wing office, ADGP Paul had given the keys of the strongroom, where the OMR sheets were kept under tight security, to deputy superintendent of police Shantha Kumar,” said the officer.

Kumar then allegedly roped in first division assistant Harsha and reserve sub-inspectors Sridhar and Srinivas to help him switch off the CCTV and fill up the blank OMR sheets. “The strongroom can be accessed only using a biometric entry. The investigators have found multiple entries to the strongroom that night, in some cases as early as 4 am. The officers who entered the room have been arrested. Considering they entered the room at odd hours and the fact that the ADGP handed over the keys show that these officers were involved in the conspiracy,” said the officer.


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Corruption case: Punjab vigilance submits challan against AIG Ashish Kapoor, ASI Harvinder Singh

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Vigilance bureau on Saturday submitted chargesheet against Ashish Kapoor, a Punjab Police Service (PPS) officer along with assistant sub inspector (ASI) Harvinder Singh, arrested in a bribery case on October 6 in a local Mohali court.

VB submitted the chargesheet under Section 7 (Public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act) of Prevention of Corruption Act in the court of Parminder Singh Grewal, Additional District and Sessions Judge. On October 6, the vigilance arrested him for taking a bribe of 1 crore through different cheques. Kapoor was posted as the commandant, 4th IRB, Pathankot. Kapoor is currently lodged in Patiala jail.

VB had alleged that AIG Ashish Kapoor had taken 11 cheques from the woman, through which she got 1 crore transferred to the accounts of her acquaintances and then took out the amount and kept it herself.

As per vigilance spokesperson, during his posting as Amritsar central jail superintendent, in 2016, Kapoor had got acquainted with a woman inmate, Poonam Rajan of Sector 30, Kurukshetra, who was on judicial remand in a case.

Poonam, along with her mother Prem Lata, brother Kuldeep Singh and sister-in-law Preeti, was also in police remand in a cheating case registered at Zirakpur police station. Kapoor went to the police station and fraudulently convinced Poonam’s mother Prem Lata to help her get bail and acquittal from the court. Kapoor, in connivance with Pawan Kumar, the then SHO of Zirakpur police station, and ASI Harjinder Singh got Preeti declared innocent in the case. In lieu of that favour, Kapoor obtained signatures of Prem Lata on different cheques amounting to Rs1 crore and deposited them under the names of his known people and got them encashed through ASI Harjinder Singh.

Moreover, the bureau had claimed that the receipts of the jewellery found in Kapoor’s locker were in the name of a Kurukshetra-based woman and were addressed to her Kurukshetra residence. Refuting the allegations, Ashish Kapoor claimed that the jewellery in his locker was purchased on his debit card from his salary account.

The vigilance had produced the receipts as evidence of the jewellery amounting to 13 lakh weighing 400.14 gram which the Kurukshetra woman had received from the jeweller. The vigilance had produced the statements of 11 witnesses in the court who claimed that they got cheques encashed that were allegedly taken by Kapoor from the Kurukshetra woman and her mother for dropping charges against them. The DSP, intelligence, Pawan Kumar, and ASI Harjinder Singh were also nominated as accused in the FIR.


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Peru: Police clash with protesters in capital Lima – BBC

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