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CJAR Statement on Karnataka Lokayukta’s resignation

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Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms

Statement on the resignation of Karnataka Lokayukta, Justice Bhasker Roa

9th December 2015

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While it is unfortunate that the current resignation of the Karnataka Lokayukta, Justice Bhasker Rao, has come only after his long drawn shameful refusal for many months to step down, it is a welcome end to an ordeal that had engulfed the anti-corruption agency. The Institution of the Lokayukta has suffered much embarrassment in this corruption scandal and the pendency of cases has shot up with the post being vacant for months, by Justice Rao going on extended leave without delegating to his colleagues and refusing to step down despite the impeachment proceedings being instituted against him and despite pressure from civil society groups. CJAR welcomes Justice Santosh Hegde’s suggestions that the probe in the charges cannot be dropped with this resignation and ought to continue and if the investigating team finds evidence that Justice Bhaskar Rao abetted his son, action ought to be taken. This sordid case also reflects the urgent need for reforms where the appointment and removal of the Lokayukta ought not to be with the political class.

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Media reports

Karnataka Lokayukta quits to avoid removal

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/y-bhaskar-rao-resigns-as-lokayukta/article7961608.ece

Y. Bhaskar Rao has finally resigned from his post of Lokayukta on Tuesday. His resignation letter was sent to Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala on Monday through N.S. Balakrishna, in-charge registrar, Karnataka Lokayukta and is reported to have been accepted by the Governor on Tuesday.

N.S. Balakrishna, in-charge registrar, Lokayukta confirmed to The Hindu that he passed on Mr. Bhaskar Rao’s resignation letter to the governor on Monday and was communicated from the Raj Bhavan to have been accepted on Tuesday.

A motion to remove Mr. Bhaskar Rao was adopted by the Legislative Assembly recently and the Dpeaker was yet to hand over the probe into the case to Chief Justice, Karnataka High Court.

Mr. Bhaskar Rao was on leave from July 27 and is holed up in Hyderabad after his son Y. Ashwin was arrested for running an extortion ring in the Lokayukta, threatening officers with raids if they failed to pay up.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the extortion ring scandal had in fact not only listed Mr. Bhaskar Rao as a prosecution witness, but also grilled him for several hours and conducted a mahazar of his official residence and office as scenes of crime.

In the multiple charge sheets that the SIT has filed till date, they have recorded statements from multiple IAS and other officials that they were called by touts and Mr. Ashwin to the residence of Lokayukta and asked to pay up to prevent a raid against them.In fact the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984 was amended to bring clarity in the procedure to remove a Lokayukta or Upa Lokayukta, with the sole intention to remove Mr. Bhaskar Rao.

With the resignation of Mr. Bhaskar Rao being accepted by the Governor, the motion adopted for his removal from the post of Lokayukta is most likely to turn infructuous. This sets the ball for the selection of a new Lokayukta to head the organisation that has been considerably weakened and lost its sheen during this bribery scandal in the anti-corruption watchdog.

The Chief Minister has convened a meeting of Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, opposition leaders of both Houses of the legislature on Tuesday, to deliberate on the appointment of a Upa Lokayukta to replace S.B. Majage, who retired on July 17. The selection of new Lokayukta is also expected to figure in the meeting.

Mr. Bhaskar Rao was appointed as the Lokayukta in February 2013. Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, he served as the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court earlier. His predecessor Shivaraj Patil also made an unceremonious exit after being in office for just three months in September 2011, over the alleged illegal allotment of a site in Judicial Layout.

Former Karnataka Chief Justice Y. Bhaskar Rao’s elevation to the post of anti-corruption ombudsman came amidst allegations of corruption against him. For over two years now, the Karnataka Lokayukta has been at the centre of many controversies.

2013

·         February 14: After almost a year-and-a-half after a media expose about illegal land allotments that forced Justice Shivraj V. Patil to resign as the Lokayukta, former Karnataka Chief Justice Y. Bhaskar Rao was appointed as Lokayukta. He was sworn in by the then Governor H. R. Bhardwaj. More..

·         When Justice Y. Bhaskar Rao was to be anointed as the Lokayukta, the office of the anti-corruption ombudsman was the centre of a controversy. Advocates Association, Bengaluru said that he “doesn’t speak Kannada and is too old for the job”. The association also accused him of involvement in a land scam. More..

2015

·         June 26: Days after charges of alleged bribery scandal in the Lokayukta, Justice Y. Bhaskar Rao announced that he has handed over the case to the CCB for investigations. Justice Rao’s son, Ashwin Rao allegedly misused the office of the Lokayukta. More..

·         June 27: With allegations of corruption in the office of Lokayukta growing, demands seeking resignation of Justice Y. Bhaskar Rao also grew. Activists and political parties demanded his resignation for ‘moral reasons’. More..

·         June 29: In an interview with The Hindu, Justice Y. Bhaskar Rao said, “I see no reason why I should resign or go on leave at this juncture. The probe will be carried out by an independent agency.” More..

·         July 1: This opinion piece by T.M. Veeraraghava points out, “The most perfect institution is only as incorruptible as the individual who heads it.” More..

·         July 2: An FIR was filed against Ashwin Rao, son of Lokayukta Y. Bhaskar Rao, by Lokayukta Police minutes before the Karnataka High Court directed both the Lokayukta and Upalokayukta not to order any in-house investigation. More..

·         July 5: The demand for the removal of Justice Y. Bhaskar Rao as Lokayukta grew louder at the Monsoon session of the Legislative Assembly held in Belagavi. Political parties submitted a memo to Speaker Kogadu Thimmappa on July 3 for Justice Rao’s removal under the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984. More..

·         July 12: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah clarified his position in the matter of ordering CBI probe into the alleged Lokayukta bribery scandal saying that the State Government does not have the power to order a CBI probe. More..

·         July 17: Legislative Council Chairman D.H. Shankaramurthy rejected the Opposition notice seeking a motion in the House for the removal of Lokayukta Y. Bhaskar Rao. More..

Karnataka High Court adjourned further the hearing of a petition filed by Lokayukta Y. Bhaskar Rao’s son Ashwin Y., questioning the investigation ordered by the Upalokayukta into the alleged corruption in Lokayukta.More..

Karnataka High Court adjourned further the hearing of a petition filed by Lokayukta Y. Bhaskar Rao’s son Ashwin Y., questioning the investigation ordered by the Upalokayukta into the alleged corruption in Lokayukta.More..

The Special Investigation Team set up to probe the allegations of corruption in the Lokayukta office grilled the complainant, M.N. Krishnamurthy, for several hours. He had identified Justice Y. Bhaskar Rao’s son, Ashwin Rao, as the person misusing Lokayukta’s office for taking bribe. More..

All Legislative Assembly members, Congress and Opposition members alike demanded that Lokayukta Y. Bhaskar Rao quit office for the alleged bribery scandal rocking the institution. More..

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Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao quits four months after son’s arrest

 

Rao, who had resisted growing calls for stepping down following the allegation, had tendered his resignation on Monday.

 

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/karnataka-lokayukta-y-bhaskar-rao-resigns-over-alleged-bribery-scandal/#sthash.VFvF0M6b.dpuf

Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao has stepped down, more than four months after his son Ashwin Rao, 49, was arrested on charges of running an extortion racket from offices of the Lokayukta. Rao’s resignation was accepted by Governor Vajubhai Vala Tuesday.

Rao’s resignation comes after opposition parties BJP and JDS initiated an impeachment motion against him in the Assembly, accusing him of incompetence and misconduct related to his son’s “illegal” activities.

Rao, appointed in 2013, is the second successive Karnataka Lokayukta to exit office in controversial circumstances and before completion of the five-year tenure. Justice Shivaraj Patil had resigned in September 2011 following allegations that he owned property in Bengaluru in violation of rules.

Rao hit headlines in May when an executive engineer in the state government accused his son of demanding Rs 1 crore as bribe for not taking up a corruption case against him. In wake of the allegation, Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash Adi ordered Lokayukta police to probe the matter.

Following a request from Rao, the Congress government instituted an SIT to probe the allegations againt Ashwin and others. Even as the SIT was being constituted, Lokayukta police registered an FIR against Ashwin, followed by four more complaints of extortion against Ashwin, Lokayukta Public Relations Officer Syed Riyaz and others, including journalists and RTI activists.

The SIT nabbed Ashwin from his flat in Kukatpally near Hyderabad on July 27. After his son’s arrest, Rao went on leave.

The SIT is yet to name Rao in any of the chargesheets filed against Ashwin. It has alleged that Ashwin and his associates used the Lokayukta’s official residence and office conference hall to threaten government officials to pay bribes. Without formally seeking Rao’s removal, the ruling Congress introduced a new law in July to facilitate speedy impeachment of Lokayukta.

With the Opposition bringing an impeachment motion against Rao and the ruling Congress bringing the same motion against Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash Adi, the institution has been virtually rendered ineffectual as both Rao and Adi are “precluded’’ from carrying out duties.

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