A serious crisis has hit the Karnataka Lokayukta over alleged links between the son of the incumbent Lokayukta (anti-graft ombudsman), Justice Y Bhaskar Rao, and an extortion racket operating from inside the office of the anti-corruption watchdog.
A June 26 move by the Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Bhaskar Rao, a former Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, to appoint a new agency to investigate the internal corruption, even as an internal probe indicated possible involvement of his son, has resulted in a furore, with a Upa-Lokayukta (deputy ombudsman), Justice Subhash Adi, questioning the move for a new probe agency.
Former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde has also joined the chorus calling for Justice Rao to step down as in the wake of allegations emerging against his son.
The alleged ‘extortion racket’ in the Lokayukta emerged in May this year, when a government Executive Engineer complained to the police wing of the Lokayukta about being summoned to the Lokayukta office by a person who identified himself as Krishna Rao, and demanded Rs 1 crore to prevent the anti-corruption watchdog from taking up a corruption case against him.
A month after the Lokayukta ordered no probe, the Upa-Lokayukta initiated an internal inquiry. The internal probe by the Lokayukta’s police wing points to the possible involvement of a person with the same name as Justice Bhaskar Rao’s son Ashwin Rao in the case. However, in a surprise move, on June 26, Justice Rao stopped the internal probe and directed Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) M Chandrashekhar, who heads the Bangalore City Crime Branch (CCB), to carry out the probe.
But Chandrashekhar has expressed his reluctance to take up the probe due to a close relaitve — a former Special Deputy Commissioner of Bangalore — facing charges of corruption before the Lokayukta.
Meanwhile, the Upa-Lokayukta, Justice Subhash Adi, has questioned the motive behind ordering a crime branch probe.
“A hasty decision has been taken by the Lokayukta…The government should have been asked to appoint an appropriate agency to probe the matter,” Justice Adi has stated.
Former Karnataka Lokayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde said:”The Lokayukta should not have written to the CCB when he himself is under a cloud. It would amount to conflict of interest if he chooses the investigating agency,” Justice Hegde said.
The Aam Aadmi Party too has demanded the resignation of Justice Rao.