Karnataka Lokayukta resigns over graft charges

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Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao, has put in his papers on 7 December, Raj Bhavan sources said on 8 December. Karnataka Lokayukta Joint Commissioner (PRO) Syed Riaz and a few others were also arrested in connection with the scandal.

For months, there had been a demand his resignation over apparent allegations that an extortion racket was being run from his office.

Ashwin Rao, who is Justice Rao’s son, was arrested in July for involvement in extortion and corruption using information gained from the Lokayukta’s office. It was alleged that he had demanded bribes to stop raids by Lokayukta officials.

The arrest had triggered demands for Justice Rao’s resignation from several quarters, including former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde and the opposition. After the protests, Justice Rao went on leave in July last week. His leave would have ended on December 17.

Earlier, the government had brought in amendments to the Lokayukta Act to make removing the ombudsman easier, after a scandal broke out. Under the amended law, passed in July, the removal of the Lokayukta can be initiated if one-third of the legislators in either House sign a motion and present it to the head of the house.

Last month, the opposition had petitioned the Karnataka assembly Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa, formally initiating the procedure for Justice Rao’s removal.