Bengaluru: The Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the extortion racket in the Karnataka Lokayukta, on Wednesday, filed a chargesheet in the Special Court, which has been constituted to hear cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The SIT has named Syed Riyaz, PRO, Lokayukta, as accused number 1, and Ashwin Rao, son of Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao as accused number 2. Journalists Bhaskar and MB Srinivas Gowda, RTI activist Shankare Gowda and realtor Ashok Kumar are the other accused in the case. All six have been charged under Sections 8, 9 and 10 of Prevention of Corruption Act and Sections 385 (extortion), 419 (cheating), 201(causing disappearance of evidence) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. The SIT has named Justice Rao as the witness for the case.
The 1545-page chargesheet contains the statements of 157 witnesses, including justice Y Bhaskar Rao and Lokayukta superintendent of police Sonia Narang. The Charge sheet was based on the complaint filed by MN Krishna Murthy, Executive Engineer, Bengaluru Urban Zilla Panchayat, Karnataka Lokayukta.
According to his complaint, one of the accused, Riyaz, called him from the number 90660 29213, introduced himself as the Joint Commissioner Krishna Rao and told him that there have been complaints about the works he executed using MLA and MP Local Area Development Funds. He was told that raids were conducted against 15 officials and his name too was in the list and could be dropped if he paid Rs 1 Crore.
Several witnesses have been quoted in the chargesheet which include MN Krishna Murthy, orderlies Pramod AP, Anthony Raj, former Registrar Harindranath Deshapande, DRE Anand Deshpande, then Bengaluru Rural SP Dr M Ashwini, Sonia Narang, Tahsildar Dayanand and Deputy Commissioner V Shankar.
Krishnamurthy’s statement, reveals that Justice Rao asked him to go on leave and switched off his Mobile. “Then I went to my native place Obalapuram. After few days, I called Lokayukta’s gun man Krishna Murthy’s other mobile number and asked him if I should return to duty or not… Then Krishna Murthy said that Lokayukta asked him to resign and take all his luggage. Accordingly, I resigned”, Krishnamurthy told the SIT.
The police have also recovered the documents relating to the illegal sale of Sim card used for extrortion calls. Chikkaiah, the driver working in the official residence of Lokayukta, narrated that he picked Ashwin from the airport and took him to the house and also took him along with the other accused Bhaskar, and Riyaz to Commercial Street and to other star hotels. The Charge sheet also reveals that the police constables, guards and cooks deployed at the residence confirmed that Ashwin, Riyaz, Bhaskar used to meet in the residence of Lokayukta Bhaskar Rao when he was not in the head quarters. They used to leave home at 8.30 pm and return late at night.
Samaj Parivartan Samudaya (SPS) terms the Charge sheet as a travesty of justice:
Speaking to presspersons here on Friday, samudaya founder-president S.R. Hiremath said that the charge-sheet filed by the SIT had named Lokayukta Y. Bhaskar Rao as a witness instead of naming him as the prime accused.
Quoting statements by the former Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde, Hiremath alleged that Rao was an “abettor” to “corruption by his son Ashwin Y.” in connivance with other Lokayukta officials. His office and the official residence were used in those cases.Hence, he could be prosecuted under Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13 (1)(C) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, Hiremath added.
It has been prima facie proved that the government was interfering in SIT investigation to safeguard Rao. The SIT has become a “caged parrot” and is under the control of the government.
Senior IPS officers, including Kamal Pant and Labu Ram, who were in the SIT, should introspect whether they had lived up to the expectations of the Constitution and the trust reposed in them, he said.