Bengaluru: The Congress government in Karnataka on Sunday said it will wait for the legislative assembly speaker’s ruling on opposition lawmakers’ move to oust the Lokayukta following a bribery charge against his son.
“It is for Speaker Kogadu Thimmappa to decide on the opposition move to remove Lokayukta Justice Y. Bhaskar Rao, though we have set up a special team to probe the graft charges against some officials in the institution and a Rs.1 crore bribe charge against his son Ashwin Rao,” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters on Sunday.
About 60 Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal-Secular legislators jointly submitted a memo to the speaker on July 3 for Rao’s removal under the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984, which empowers the state legislature to do so.
“We will abide by the speaker’s decision, as we are not protecting anyone and will allow the law to take its course. As per the Act, the house only has the power to remove the ombudsman. It is also up to Rao to decide whether to step down or not,” Siddaramaiah said on the margins of a function here.
Opposition leader and former chief minister Jagadish Shettar of the BJP said corruption charges against the very institution that was set up to check graft was a body blow to democracy and weakens the crusade against such crimes.
“As Rao failed to prevent some Lokayukta officials and his son from being accused of taking bribes, he should step down till the probe is completed or the state government should ask him to support our demand,” Shettar told reporters after a party meeting.
The state legislature’s 10-day monsoon session is on since June 29 at Belagavi, 510 km from Bengaluru.
According to the speaker’s office, the business advisory committee will decide on Monday on the admission, discussion and ruling upon the opposition’s plea.
The opposition members had also submitted a similar memo on June 2 to legislative council Chairman D.H. Shankaramurthy for Rao’s ouster.
The state government had set up the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on June 30, under Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Kamal Pant on the ombudsman’s request on June 29 after city crime branch Joint Commissioner M. Chandra Shekar on June 27 declined to conduct the probe, as his father-in-law was facing a Lokayukta inquiry in a corruption case.
The Karnataka High Court on July 1 also allowed the SIT to conduct the probe and stayed an internal inquiry ordered by Upa Lokayukta Subhash B. Adi against some unidentified officials in the anti-graft watchdog and Ashwin Rao on a report by Lokayukta Superintendent of Police Sonia Narang in May.