A Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing charges of corruption against Ashwin Rao, the son of former Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Bhaskar Rao, has sought permission from the Congress government in the state to prosecute Justice Rao in connection with his son’s alleged crimes.
Justice Rao, former chief justice of Karnataka, had resigned as the state’s anti-corruption ombudsman last December.
The SIT has filed five chargesheets against Justice Rao’s son and his associates, including a former Lokayukta public relations officer, for allegedly using the office of the Lokayukta to extort money from state government officials. Now it has written to the state government for permission to initiate prosecution of Justice Rao, who has not been named as an accused so far in the five chargesheets, sources said. The retired senior judge is being sought to be prosecuted under charges of abetment of the crimes of his son.
Justice Rao had so far featured in the chargesheets only as a witness to some of the happenings in the extortion racket allegedly operated by his son and others. The Lokayukta’s office and his official residence were often the locations where extortion demands were allegedly placed on government officials by the judge’s son and his accomplices, according to the chargesheets. Several IAS officers who were targeted by the extortionists for money and favours told the SIT that they had reported the activities of Ashwin Rao and his gang to Justice Rao.
When questioned by the SIT a few months ago, Justice Rao had claimed that he was not connected to the activities of his son.
The SIT’s move to seek permission for prosecution of Justice Rao, who demitted office on December 7 last year, comes even as the government led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is at loggerheads with the opposition over the appointment of the new Karnataka Lokayukta. Siddaramaiah is in favour of appointing an old friend and former High Court judge Justice S R Nayak, while the opposition and others on the panel have suggested former Supreme Court judge Vikramajit Sen, despite the judge himself expressing disinclination to take up the mantle.