Karnataka Govt Forms SIT to Probe Lokayukta Graft Allegations
The Karnataka Govt has formed a SIT to probe allegations of extortion against Lokayukta officials.
The Karnataka government is setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe corruption charges leveled against some officials of the state Lokayukta by state bureaucrats and RTI activists.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has agreed to set up a SIT to probe the corruption charges, including demanding bribes from senior state bureaucrats by a few unidentified officials working in the Lokayukta in collusion with middlemen.
— KJ George, State Home Minister
“The SIT will be headed by an officer of the rank of additional director general of police (ADGP) under the Karnataka Lokayukta Act,” George said.
Director General of Police Om Prakash will name the SIT head in consultation with the Chief Minister and the Home Minister, although reports hinted at ADGP Kamal Pant being considered for the key post.
The SIT is being set up on the request of Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao after City Crime Branch (CCB) Joint Commissioner M Chandra Shekar declined to inquire into the probe charges, as his father-in-law was facing an inquiry by the anti-graft body in a corruption case.
Though Upa Lokayukta Justice Subash B Adi directed Superintendent of Police Sonia Narang to continue with the internal probe into the bribe charge, Rao ordered a separate probe by the CCB last week and by an independent agency on Monday.
A Brief Timeline of Events
The first indications of corruption within the Lokayukta came to light in May with suspicion arising that officers posted in the anti-corruption wing were abusing their position and power to run an extortion racket.
RTI activists are now demanding that Lokayukta Y Bhaskar Rao resign, as there were allegations against him, but no response or even clarification has been issued.
– Zilla Panchayat (Bengaluru Urban) engineer Krishnamurthy receives a call from one Krishna Rao on May 5 and 7, asking him to pay a bribe of Rs 1 crore if he wanted to escape Lokayukta raids.
– He approached Bengaluru City Lokayukta SP Sonia Narang, who learned upon investigation, that the calls were made from the Lokayukta headquarters in Bengaluru.
– On May 11, Narang submitted a report to Rao communicating these findings.
– On June 6, Rao claimed that he had ordered an inquiry by the Inspector-General of the Lokayukta Pronab Mohanty, nearly a month after Narang submitted the report.
– On June 23, Upa Lokayukta Suresh B Adi asked Narang to investigate and submit the report to his office.
– On June 24, RTI activists staged a protest in the Anand Rao circle area of the city demanding that Lokayukta Y Bhaskar Rao resign. Speaking to The News Minute on the day of the protest, member of the RTI Activists’ Forum S Bhaskaran said that two people namely Ashwin and Krishna Rao had been using the name of Lokayukta officials to demand bribes.
Ashwin Rao is reportedly the Lokayukta’s son, but there has been no answer from him. How can people trust the institution in such a scenario?.
– S Bhaskaran, Member of RTI Activists’ Forum
– On June 26, Lokayukta Rao ordered a probe by the Central Crime Branch (CCB).
– On June 27, The Hindu reported that Rao had acknowledged that Ashwin Rao was his son, but denied the latter’s involvement in the case. He also claimed that he did not know any Krishna Rao.
– On June 28, The Hindu and The Times of India reported on the modus operandi of the alleged extortion racket being run in collusion with Lokayukta officers themselves.
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