Siddaramaiah demands rape case against ex-minister, court- monitored probe

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(Eds: Updates with fresh inputs) Bengaluru, Mar 22 (PTI) Former chief minister Siddaramaiah on Monday demanded in the Karnataka Assembly that a rape case be registered against BJP MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, who recently quit as minister amid allegations that he sexually harassed a woman 'job aspirant'.

The Leader of the Opposition, who also demanded a court- monitored probe, claimed the woman in a video message had said she was 'utilised' and thus it would amount to rape.

'I demand a rape case under section 376 of the IPC be registered against Ramesh Jarkiholi otherwise we can't do justice to the woman,' Siddaramaiah said.

Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said there were contradictions in the complaint filed by a social activist which hampered proceeding further in the case.

However, he insisted that the government was doing its best to provide security to the woman, missing now, once she was located.

The Minister's response did not satisfy the Congress, whose members trooped into the Well raising slogans against the government leading to adjournment of the House for the day.

Jarkiholi, BJP MLA from Gokak, resigned as minister on March 3, after a social activist lodged a police complaint alleging sexual harassment to a 'job aspirant' and video clips purportedly showing their intimate moments surfaced.

Rejecting the charges, the BJP leader has claimed innocence, saying the videos were fake and vowed to send the 'conspirators' behind bars.

Social activist Dinesh Kallahalli, who filed the police complaint against Jarkiholi, had withdrawn it later.

Raising the issue in the House, Siddaramaiah said 'When the victim says she was utilised, it means there was no consent for the act. An act without consent is rape.' He said the police officers who failed to register a case should also face action.

Siddaramaiah charged Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai with writing a note to police based on a statement by Jarkiholi to form a SIT on March 9 without any term of condition though the former minister lodged a police complaint only on March 13 that he was blackmailed using a fake CD.

Intervening, veteran Congress member K R Ramesh Kumar said the complaint of such serious nature lodged by a former MLA on behalf of Jarkiholi should not have been accepted by the police.

Contending that the complaint lodged by Jarkiholi was untenable, Siddaramaiah demanded protection for the woman and a Karnataka High Court monitored investigation by an independent agency and not the Special Investigation Team.

He also sought the resignation of six Ministers who obtained temporary court injunction against publishing of any defamatory materials against them in the media, including news channels and the newspapers.

'The ministers are under fear which is against their oath of discharging their duties without any fear or favour at the time of assuming office,' Siddaramaiah said.

Siddaramaiah charged that all those Congress and the JD (S) MLAs who were responsible for the fall of the coalition government led by H D Kumaraswamy in 2019 and had camped in Mumbai felt threatened and sought injunction.

Replying to the charges, Bommai said the complainant did not come to lodge a police complaint but it was submitted by a third party -- Kallahalli -- who did not have any information and whereabouts of the woman.

Pointing out that Kallahalli had withdrawn the complaint, he said Jarkiholi in his complaint had alleged a big conspiracy.

Bommai added that he has asked the SIT to investigate all the aspects of the case right from Kallahalli's complaint of sexual exploitation, Jarkiholi's police complaint and the missing report filed by the father of the woman in Belagavi.

Regarding the video message in social media by the woman seeking protection, Bommai said it has been addressed to him and he was doing everything to locate her.

'We are not able to find her because she is on the run.

Our five teams are trying to locate her and went to Delhi, Bhopal, Goa, Belagavi and Bengaluru but she is not to be found,' he added.

The Minister also pointed out that there were contradictions in her video message as the woman alleged that Jarkiholi had 'utilised' her and later posted her objectionable video in the social media.

'Do you think the minister will make it public to defame himself and strip himself of ministerial portfolio?' Bommai counter-questioned Siddaramaiah.

He also said that the woman's father in the missing complaint did not mention that he attempted suicide as the victim has claimed in her video. PTI GMS VS VS