Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Monday decided to hand over the probe to the CBI into the mysterious death of DK Ravi, following a week of protests by opposition parties and members of the IAS officer's family.
The chief minister made the announcement in the state assembly, saying he was referring the case to Central Bureau of Investigation to honour the feelings of Ravi's parents as well as public sentiments.
"I understand the feelings of Ravi's parents.... We respect public sentiments," Siddaramaiah said, adding, the government was keen that the truth should be brought out and culprits punished.
The CM also rejected allegations that the state police probe was an attempt at cover-up, saying the government was not trying to protect anyone.
"We believe in people's power. We believe in respecting public sentiments," said the Siddaramaiah, who had been facing rising public anger and growing clamour for a CBI probe.
Before announcing the CBI probe the chief minister justified the ongoing probe by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), but opposition MLAs of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and JD (Secular) trooped into the well of the House shouting slogans against him.
"One shouldn't do politics over deaths. We are not here to make political capital over a tragedy," Siddaramaiah said leading to angry protests from opposition benches.
The decision to go for a CBI probe comes three days after Congress president Sonia Gandhi advised Siddaramaiah to seek an inquiry into the officer's death by the central agency. Ravi's mother had written an open letter, which was published in newspapers, to the Congress chief asking for a inquiry by the central agency into her son's death.
Opposition parties had accused the government of trying to mislead investigations by implying that the death was due to personal reasons.
The family of Ravi, who had made a mark as a bold and upright officer and had faced threats for taking on the sand mafia in Kolar and the land mafia in Bengaluru, including real estate firms allegedly close to the ruling Congress, had suspected foul play and demanded an inquiry by the central agency.
The BJP and JD(S) had also launched an offensive against the Siddaramaiah government with public protests raging statewide ever since the death of Ravi on March 16.
As the CM made his decision public, reactions from various quarters poured in with the Congress party saying that the announcement was made in order to respect the family's demands.
Senior Congress leader and Karnataka in-charge, Digvijaya Singh, said that the CBI has been roped in because Ravi's family wanted the central agency to probe his death.
"In any case preliminary investigation is done by state police and then it is referred to the CBI if required. But family of IAS DK Ravi wanted CBI investigation, so we asked the state government to hand it over to the CBI," said senior Congress leader and Karnataka in-charge, Digvijaya Singh.
While JD(S) said the CM's actions came only after an order from the Congress leadership, the BJP reacted to the development by saying that the state government should have called for a CBI probe right in the beginning.
"He only handed over the case to the CBI after direction from Congress high command and not out of respect for demand of people of Karnataka," said senior JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy.
"Valuable time has been lost, it would have been good if this demand of CBI inquiry had been accepted from beginning," said BJP leader Sambit Patra.
Ravi, who was posted as a joint commissioner in commercial tax department, was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his apartment by his wife on March 16. The police suspect it to be a case of suicide, though no note was found.
On Sunday, the Karnataka high court stopped the government from making an initial report on what it called the "unnatural death" of the 36-year-old officer public.
The court acted on a petition by the husband of an IAS officer, who knew Ravi and was, according to media reports quoting police sources, the last to have been in touch with him.
The husband of the IAS officer, who some police sources allege was romantically involved with Ravi, filed a petition invoking article 226 of the Constitution under which the high court is given extraordinary power to restrain the government from taking certain action.
He pleaded that certain angles of the probe, if placed in the public domain, will bring his family and wife into disrepute.
(With PTI and ANI inputs)