10 July 2023 6:05 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court recently dismissed a petition filed by five persons seeking to quash proceedings initiated against them for allegedly demanding money from the Chief Administrator Officer of Ramachandrapura Mutt for withdrawing a PIL filed by Gokarna Hitha Rakshana Samithi against the Mutt, alleging financial irregularities.A single judge bench of Justice K Natarajan said,...
The Karnataka High Court recently dismissed a petition filed by five persons seeking to quash proceedings initiated against them for allegedly demanding money from the Chief Administrator Officer of Ramachandrapura Mutt for withdrawing a PIL filed by Gokarna Hitha Rakshana Samithi against the Mutt, alleging financial irregularities.
A single judge bench of Justice K Natarajan said,
“Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the offence committed by the accused cannot be taken in a lighter way as they have filed PIL case and demanded Rs.5 crores for withdrawing the said case and were caught red handed while accepting Rs.10 lakh. The Police have thoroughly investigated the matter and filed the charge sheet. Therefore, there is a prima facie material for framing of charges against the accused persons. Therefore, the proceedings cannot be quashed.”
As per the complaint, a phone call was received by the incharge of the Ramachandrapura Mutt from one Mallikarjun Patil (accused No.1) stating that he is an advocate and wants to discuss the PIL coming up against the Mutt. This information was forwarded to the Mutt's counsel who alleged that accused no. 1 along with accused no. 2 demanded Rs.1 Crore in order to withdraw the PIL. Hence, the complaint was filed and a trap was laid where accused were caught red handed accepting money.
The petitioners (accused no. 3 - 7) argued that though they are members of the Gokarna Hitha Rakshana Samithi, they were not involved in demanding money. It was submitted that the allegations are against accused Nos.1 and 2 and there is no allegation that these petitioners participated either in the criminal conspiracy or in demanding money from the complainant.
On going through the records the bench noted that as per the call detail register (CDR), all the accused persons were in touch. Moreover, to withdraw the case, consent of members is required. Thus it concluded that accused no.1 was only a "middleman" who contacted the complainant and the Mutt's advocate.
Court also took note of statements made by two witnesses who claimed that there was conspiracy in the Gokarna Temple. Thus it held, “Without going to the trial, the statement of CWs.25 and 26 cannot be disbelieved and the Court cannot hold a mini trial for quashing the criminal proceedings.”
The court also said sufficient material is placed on record including call details records (CDR), as the accused persons were continuously speaking to each other prior to the trap and until apprehension of accused Nos.1 and 2.
Accordingly, it dismissed the petition.
Case Title: Gopala Sadashiva Gayatri & others And State By Girinagara Police & ANR
Case No: CRIMINAL PETITION NO.4835 OF 2021
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 258
Date of Order: 28-06-2023
Appearance: Advocate Padmavathi N for Petitioners
HCGP S. Vishwa Murthy for R1.
Manmohan P N for R2.
Click Here To Read/Download Order