The police wing of the Karnataka Lokayukta on Wednesday registered a case of corruption, cheating and criminal conspiracy against four people, including incumbent Lokayukta Justice Bhaskar Rao’s son Ashwin Rao for allegedly demanding bribe from a government executive engineer. The move came even as Ashwin Rao obtained a stay order from the High Court on the Lokayukta police probe against him.
The Lokayukta police filed an FIR — under Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and other sections of the IPC for extortion, cheating by impersonation and criminal conspiracy – on the basis of a statement by Executive Engineer Krishnamurthy, who claims he was asked to pay Rs 1 crore to prevent corruption proceedings against him.
A preliminary probe into the allegations, initiated on June 23 by the Lokayukta police on the directions of the Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash Adi, had pointed to the involvement of Lokayukta insiders and some outsiders going by the names of Ashwin Rao and Krishna Rao. Justice Rao denies all allegations against his son.
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Meanwhile, a division bench of the Karnataka High Court comprising Justice N Kumar and Justice Srinivasa Gowda stayed the inquiry into the alleged extortion racket in the Lokayukta on the basis of a petition filed by Justice Bhaskar Rao’s son, who argued that the Lokayukta police were investigating the matter despite Justice Rao seeking an independent probe and the state ordering constitution of a Special Investigation Team to look into the matter.
He also alleged that the Lokayukta police had an agenda to implicate him.
After the arguments, the High Court imposed a stay order on the internal probe by the Lokayukta police.
Justice Rao’s advocates also informed the court about the FIR being filed by the Lokayukta police despite the writ petition being listed for hearing.
The court has also directed Ashwin’s lawyers to produce the FIR.
Sources in the Lokayukta police said that the registration of the FIR means that any other agency, like the SIT, is free to carry forward the probe.
The internal corruption case has pitted Lokayukta Justice Bhaskar Rao, a former Chief Justice of the Karnataka high court, against one of his two deputies, the Upa-Lokayukta Justice Subhash B Adi, a former judge of the Karnataka High Court.
On June 23, Justice Adi had directed the Lokayukta police to probe the matter after no action was initiated by Justice Rao for over a month after it was first reported on May 11.
On June 26, when the internal probe seemed to be closing in on suspects including several persons connected to the Lokayukta, Justice Rao ordered an independent probe on the grounds that since the “matter pertains to allegations against the office of the Lokayukta itself, the police wing of the Lokayukta shall not entertain or enquire into such complaint’’.
The Upa-Lokayukta has, however, stuck to his guns, issuing additional orders on June 30 stating that his order of June 23 was judicial in nature, which cannot be superseded by an administrative order issued by the Lokayukta and that it can only be challenged in the High Court.