Former Lokayukta Rao asked to join probe into extortion racket, SC told

Top court refuses bail to ex-PRO Syed Riyaz, three others

Former Lokayukta Rao asked to join probe into extortion racket, SC told

Former Lokayukta Y Bhaskar Rao has been asked to join the investigation into the extortion racket reportedly run by his son Y Ashwin and some officials in the anti-corruption watchdog, the Karnataka police told the Supreme Court on Friday.

“The Lokayukta, who demitted office in December, has been called for to join the probe,” senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, along with advocate Joseph Aristotle, informed the court, urging it not to grant bail to the accused.

They were representing the Special Investigation Team (SIT) which is probing the extortion racket.

More time
The counsel submitted that the main charge sheet in the case had been filed but it would take six weeks to conclude the investigation in relation to the four accused and two or three weeks more to complete the other formalities.

Acceding to their plea, a bench of Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy once again refused to grant bail to the accused — Syed Riyazullah, a former Public Relations Officer of the Karnataka Lokayukta, television journalist M B Srinivasa Gowda and two others Shankare Gowda and Ashok Kumar.

Taking note of the submission, the court directed the SIT to conclude the probe within six weeks and other formalities in two more weeks. It fixed the matter for consideration after 10 weeks. The SIT also submitted a status report in a sealed cover on the investigation.
The counsel for Srinivasa Gowda, Shankare Gowda and Ashok Kumar argued that they should be given bail as the charge sheet had been filed.

Apex court’s refusal
The court, at one point of time, intended to ask the accused to approach the High Court of Karnataka for bail once the probe was over but desisted issuing any order on the SIT’s request.

It also refused to modify its September 16 order that stayed the bail granted to the accused by the High Court.

In November, too, the apex court hadn’t allowed a petition for modification of its stay order.

The SIT had registered five cases and arrested 11 people, including the prime accused Ashwin. Justice Rao, who was appointed the Lokayukta in February 2013, resigned on December 8, 2015, following growing clamour for his removal over the extortion racket.

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