Bengaluru: Special team to probe graft charges in Karnataka Lokayukta

Bengaluru: The Karnataka government is setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe corruption charges levelled against some officials of the state Lokayukta by state bureaucrats and RTI activists.

“Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has agreed to set up an 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,” state Home Minister K.J. George told reporters at Belagavi, about 510 km from here.

All ministers and lawmakers are camping in the state’s northern city of Belagavi to attend the 10-day monsoon session of the state legislature since Monday.

“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.

In a related development, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday by four lawyers, seeking a CBI probe into the graft charges in the Lokayukta.

The petitioners were advocates Dharmapal, S. Bhaskaran, Narayan Shetty and Satish Kumar.

Meanwhile, about 200 lawyers, volunteers of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and RTI activists staged a protest at the Lokayukta office in Bengaluru, seeking Rao’s resignation till the probe into the graft charges was completed.

Ruling out resignation, Rao told reporters he would quit if found guilty by the SIT of sheltering corrupt officials in the Lokayukta.

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