A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Karnataka Police Wednesday charged former Karnataka Lokayukta, Justice Y Bhaskar Rao, with abetting a corruption and extortion racket allegedly run from his office by his son Ashwin Rao during his tenure as Lokayukta between 2013 and 2015.
In a chargesheet filed in Bengaluru, the SIT has accused the former chief justice of Karnataka High Court with extortion, criminal conspiracy, willful abetment and destroying evidence (charges filed under IPC), and for corruption under Prevention of Corruption Act.
Rao, who stepped down as the Lokayukta on December 7, 2015 after the Karnataka Assembly initiated an impeachment motion, is reported to be in the United States at present. His son and more than a dozen other people, who allegedly carried out the extortion racket in the Lokayukta office, are in jail, awaiting trial.
The SIT, which has filed five cases in the Lokayukta corruption racket, has named Justice Rao as accused number seven in its 550-page additional chargesheet, based on a case filed by P Krishnamurthy, an executive engineer in the state Public Works Department.
According to Krishnamurthy, the former Lokayukta’s son Ashwin Rao and others — the then public relations officer of Lokayukta office, a few businessmen, journalists and RTI activists, among them — summoned him to the Lokayukta office in May 2015 and sought bribe of Rs 1 crore to prevent filing of corruption cases against him.
The SIT found through statements of employees at Rao’s office and home, as also from his phone details, that the then Lokayukta was aware that his office and home was being used for extortion, allegedly by a gang led by his son. The SIT has found that the judge did not try to stop the racket — in fact, he tried to protect him by allegedly destroying evidence when the racket was finally exposed through the complaints of Krishnamurthy and others.
According to the SIT, one crucial evidence to indicate Rao’s alleged complicity is a text message his son sent to his lawyer when the corruption issue was exposed last year. “Dad is taking care of it,” said the SMS purportedly sent by Ashwin. The SIT claims that although Rao said he had no links with Ashwin, they were communicating clandestinely.
Ashwin Rao was arrested on July 27, 2015.