Finally, Karnataka lokayukta resigns

Bribery scandal that made legislators take motion against Rao forced the act

GN Bureau | December 8, 2015



Ending months of uncertainty hanging over the anti-corruption institution due to allegations of bribery, Karnataka’s lokayukta Y Bhaskar Rao has resigned. Rao has been stalling calls for stepping down following the allegations. However, he tendered his resignation on Monday and it was accepted by governor Vajubhai R Vala today.

"Hon'ble Governor of Karnataka is pleased to accept the resignation of Dr justice Y Bhaskar Rao, as lokayukta of Karnataka state with immediate effect," a Raj Bhavan communique said on Tuesday.

He faced an imminent prospect of removal by legislative process over allegations of extortion racket run from his office, the state’s anti-corruption ombudsman. The person involved in this racket is his own son Ashwin Rao.

Rao was on a long leave since July last after his son was arrested by the Special Investigation Team ( SIT) in connection with the case.

The scandal came into the public domain after lokayukta superintendent of police Sonia Narang wrote a letter to the registrar of Karnataka lokayukta about the complaint she received from a person who alleged that someone from the lokayukta office demanded Rs 1 crore in bribe to avoid a raid.
 
The SIT had in fact not only listed Bhaskar Rao as a prosecution witness, but also grilled him for several hours and cited his office as scene of crime.

It has also recorded statements from IAS and other officials that they were called by touts and Ashwin to the residence of lokayukta and asked to pay up to prevent a raid against them.

A motion moved by BJP and JDS and also supported by the ruling Congress seeking the removal of Rao is pending before the Karnataka Assembly with speaker Kagodu Thimappa considering it before referring the issue to the Karnataka high court chief justice to take the process forward.

According to the lokayukta act, recently amended to simplify rules for removal of the anti-graft ombudsman, on admission of the motion, the presiding officers shall refer the matter to the High Court Chief Justice for investigation into the grounds over which the removal is sought.

If the charges against the lokayukta are proved by the inquiry, it is then taken up for consideration and adoption of the motion and sent to the governor for assent.

The investigation for proof of misbehaviour or incapacity of lokayukta has to be done as provided in the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968, by a three-member committee, comprising two judges and a jurist.

Meanwhile, chief minister Siddaramaiah has convened a meeting of the chief justice, opposition leaders of both houses of the legislature today, to deliberate on the appointment of a upa lokayukta to replace SB Majage, who retired on July 17. The selection of new lokayukta is also expected to figure in the meeting.

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