Lokayukta bribery row: Evidence being destroyed, alleges Hegde
Former Lokayukta Santosh Hegde on Friday alleged that attempts were being made to destroy evidence about suspected extortion racket in the ombudsman's office and questioned the government's reluctance to give the case to CBI, saying it was not serious about getting at the truth.
Bengaluru: Former Lokayukta Santosh Hegde on Friday alleged that attempts were being made to destroy evidence about suspected extortion racket in the ombudsman's office and questioned the government's reluctance to give the case to CBI, saying it was not serious about getting at the truth.
As public pressure for the resignation of Lokayukta Bhaskar Rao over alleged involvement of his son in the racket grew, Hegde said, "Bundles after bundles (of files) are going to his (lokayukta's) house..."
"... I was Lokayukta for five years. I did not take bundles home. This is an indicator of the fact that evidence is being destroyed," Hegde, a former Supreme Court judge who as Lokayukta had made a mark for tough action on graft, told PTI.
Hegde said, "all these facts indicate that Justice Rao is guilty of abetment which is punishable with the same punishment which is applicable for other offences such as extortion, cheating and bribery. Obviously a person who doesn't gain from all this would have cooperated with investigation."
Rao, a former High Court Chief Justice, is facing heat over the alleged scandal that has rocked the Lokayukta office with the Opposition demanding his resignation and a CBI probe into the issue and demonstrations being held daily by various groups demanding his exit.
An unfazed Rao has dismissed the charges, saying he would quit if they were proved.
Hegde also questioned the government's expression of inability to hand over the case to the CBI.
"I don't know whether they - Siddaramaiah (Chief Minister) and Home Minister K J George - have read the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act which empowers them to hand over the case to CBI," he said.
Hegde said the government is not serious in getting to the truth, as otherwise it would have handed over the case to the central investigating agency."....I don't think this government is serious to look into it."
Asked why the government was unwilling to initiate action against the Lokayukta, Hegde said, "The inaction springs from various defaults of the government. It is a case of you scratch my back and I scratch yours. Maybe there are some pending petitions (of people forming the government including Chief Minister) before the Lokayukta for initiating action."
Moreover, Hegde said the Lokayukta does not have powers to stay the order of the Upa Lokayukta, who had ordered Lokayukta Superintendent of Police to investigate the matter.
The Lokayukta, instead, should have approached the court to rectify Upa Lokayukta's order if felt so, Hegde said. "He should have gone to the court to rectify the order."
Hegde said the very reaction of the Lokayukta to refer the matter first to CCB and then to SIT exposes his guilt of abetting the crime committed by his son.
"Which accused abettor has the right to choose a forum? The reaction of the Lokayukta is a guilty reaction because he first referred the matter to the CCB and then to the government asking it to hand over the case to an independent body and suggest the case to be handled by SIT," he contended.
"Why is the Lokayukta trying to take away the jurisdiction of the Lokayukta and give it to another investigating body? All this suggests that the person is guilty of abetting the crime and allowing his son to commit crime sitting in the office of the Lokayukta," he added.
Hegde also said SIT does not have teeth as the police body has and it is simply a fact-finding body like a commission of inquiry.
"SIT has no power to register a case. In that sense of a term it is not a police body. SIT cannot arrest a person. SIT cannot have custodial interrogation of the people. It is a fact-finding body like a commission of enquiry," he said.
"Handing over the case to teethless SIT is purely delaying tactics to eradicate evidence against the accused," he said.