SIT likely to book former Lokayukta Justice Bhaskar Rao

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Bengaluru: Will the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is probing the alleged extortion and corruption rackets in the Lokayukta, chargesheet former Lokayukta Justice Bhaskar Rao? Sources said that the SIT could charge Justice Rao with abetting the alleged multi-crore rackets, which were reportedly run by his son Y. Ashwin, who is the prime accused in all the five First Information Reports (FIRs) and subsequent chargesheets that have been submitted by the SIT.

“There is a provision in law that anyone, including a complainant, can be chargesheeted in a case even if his name does not appear in the FIR, provided the investigating team has sufficient prosecutable evidence against him. Though Justice Rao has been enlisted as a witness in three of the five cases, the SIT can include his name in the chargesheet if they have gathered clinching evidence against him, which can stand the scrutiny of the court,” said an official source on condition of anonymity. Though officers in the SIT remained out of reach, it is reliably learnt that they are likely to consult legal experts on the matter.

The SIT sleuths had grilled the former Lokayukta for a day in September last year at his residence in Hyderabad, while he was on leave, and had recorded his statement as a witness. Justice Rao had reportedly told the investigating officers that he had no personal knowledge of the racket that was allegedly operated by his son in connivance with the former joint commissioner and public relations officer, Lokayukta, Syed Riyaz, and other accused, including V. Bhaskar, Ashok Kumar, M.B. Sivarame Gowda and V. Shankare Gowda. The team has arrested 11 accused in the case so far.

The corruption scandal unfolded in May last year, when the then superintendent of police (city wing) Sonia Narang had sent a written complaint to the Lokayukta after Bengaluru urban zilla panachayat executive engineer M.N. Krishnamurthy complained to her about it. The SP had later registered the first FIR – 56/1158 in the special Lokayukta court.

The case was handed over to the SIT after Justice Rao wrote to the government that the probe should be handed to an external agency and not the Lokayukta police.
Justice Rao had resigned as the Lokayukta in the first week of December last year – four months after his son was arrested in the scam.

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