The Supreme Court Monday directed former chief justice of Karnataka High Court Y Bhaskar Rao to “face trial” in connection with an alleged extortion racket run by his son when the judge was Lokayukta of the state in 2015.
“Go and face trial,” said a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Naveen Sinha as it dismissed Rao’s appeal against the order of summoning him as an accused in the criminal case. The bench not only declined to set aside the criminal proceedings against Rao but also shot down his plea to exempt him from personal appearance before the trial court.
“So far as the plea for exemption from personal appearance is concerned, we leave the matter to the trial court,” said the court, asking Rao’s counsel to make appropriate prayer before the trial judge.
Rao, named as the seventh accused, has been charged with abetting illegal gratification to influence a public servant, concealing evidence and being part of a criminal conspiracy to cover up and protect the offenders.
His son Y Ashwin is the prime accused in the alleged extortion racket that was being run in the Lokayukta office, with subsequent public and opposition outcry causing the exit of Rao as the head of the anti-graft institution. He was appointed as Lokayukta in February, 2013 and resigned in December 2015 following unearthing of the racket.
Rao, 78, had come to the apex court against the Karnataka High Court order in November 2016, which had junked his petition that seeking quashing of a supplementary chargesheet filed against him well as summons issued to him in the case.
His lawyer told the bench that the HC failed to consider that as a former judge, he was granted protection against prosecution under the Judges (Protection) Act. Apart from questioning inclusion of Rao’s name in the supplementary chargesheet, the counsel said that the sanction for his prosecution granted by the Governor lacked aid and advice of the Council of Ministers and was therefore invlid.
The bench, however, retorted: “We are unconvinced with your arguments…go and face trial”.
At this, Rao’s counsel pleaded for a direction to the trial court not to be influenced by the order of the HC but the bench replied: “This would amount to setting aside the High Court order. That is the danger you have to face for approaching the HC”.