The Karnataka High Court on Monday granted bail to former Lokayukta Y Bhaskar Rao’s son, Ashwin Rao and nine others in the Lokayukta extortion case. Justice Ratnakala also granted bail to former Lokayukta PRO Syed Riyaz and Bhaskar, an associate of Ashwin Rao, who was arrested by SIT in Hyderabad in July last year based on an FIR filed against him by Lokayukta police. Shankare Gowda, Srinivasa Gowda, Ashok Kumar, Narasimha Murthy, Hotte Krishna, Rajashekar and Mohd Sadiq Basha were the others who secured bail.
Earlier, the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is investigating the case, had moved the Supreme Court seeking cancellation of bail granted to the accused by the Karnataka High Court. It had filed charge sheet against the accused, including Ashwin Rao alias Ashwin Yarabatti. After the final hearing, the apex court on April 2 set aside the Karnataka High Court order granting bail to the accused by observing that they were at liberty to move the trial court for grant of bail since the Lokayukta police had filed charge sheet against them.
The charge sheet was filed in an extortion case registered by the SIT on the basis of a complaint lodged by government engineer M N Krishnamurthy, who had alleged that he was asked to pay Rs one crore by the accused to prevent a raid on him by Lokayukta police. According to the charge sheet, Riyaz, who was suspended from his post of PRO of Lokayukta soon after his arrest, is the main accused.
The alleged scam came to light after the then Lokayukta superintendent of police, Sonia Narang wrote a letter to Lokayukta Registrar about the complaint she received from an executive engineer, who alleged that someone from Lokayukta office demanded Rs one crore in bribe to avoid a raid.
Despite widespread protests and censure, Bhaskar Rao refused to resign from his post until the state Assembly moved a motion against him. Bhaskar Rao resigned in December 2015, four months after his son was arrested. On August 5, Rao was chargesheeted for abetting illegal gratification to influence a public servant, concealing evidence and being part of a criminal conspiracy to cover up and protect the offenders. He is a former high court CJ. After Rao’s resignation, the post of Lokayukta has remained vacant as the governor had rejected the name of S R Nayak proposed by the state government. The government is yet to finalise another candidate.