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'Conduct Does Not Inspire Confidence': Karnataka High Court Refuse Anticipatory Bail To Ex-Member Of Legislative Council In Extortion Case

Mustafa Plumber
25 April 2022 1:30 PM GMT
Conduct Does Not Inspire Confidence: Karnataka High Court Refuse Anticipatory Bail To Ex-Member Of Legislative Council In Extortion Case
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The Karnataka High Court has refused anticipatory bail to a Former Member of Legislative Council and another person in an alleged case of extortion, registered against them by a civil contractor earlier this year. A single judge bench of Justice Sunil Dutt Yadav while refusing anticipatory bail to Srikanth L. Ghotnekar and Anil Chawhan said, "It must be noted that though an offence...

The Karnataka High Court has refused anticipatory bail to a Former Member of Legislative Council and another person in an alleged case of extortion, registered against them by a civil contractor earlier this year.

A single judge bench of Justice Sunil Dutt Yadav while refusing anticipatory bail to Srikanth L. Ghotnekar and Anil Chawhan said, "It must be noted that though an offence under Section 506 IPC and 363 IPC are bailable, the allegation of extortion is serious."

It added, "The accused no.1 is also a former Member of Legislative Council. His application for anticipatory bail in another case involving other offences including an offence under Section 506 of IPC has been rejected. His conduct does not inspire confidence. The allegations are serious in nature as compared to the other accused. The stand of the police authorities that they require him for custodial interrogation cannot be brushed aside."

Complaint details:

As per the complaint filed with the Haliyal police station, the complainant is a contractor and in the year 2021 work order was granted to the complainant by Malanad Development Authority to carry out certain civil works and in specific to lay the slabs at Kshatriya Maratha Bhavan, Haliyal Taluk.

Accused no.1 being the President of Kshatriya Maratha Bhavan, by collecting donations from the public had put up the slabs at Kshatriya Maratha Bhavan. Subsequently, an amount of Rs.3.71 Lakhs is stated to have been remitted to the account of the complainant. It is narrated in the complaint that accused no.1 had called upon the complainant on 2-3 occasions to pay the said amount and the complainant had refused to hand over the money stating that work was not yet completed.

Further, it is alleged that, the complainant was called to the Maratha Bhavan at Haliyal and he was threatened, forcibly taken into the car belonging to the first accused by the other accused and was taken to Laxman Palace Lodge. He was surrounded and forcibly made to make a cheque in the name of accused no.2 for a sum of Rs.3,33,900/- in his own handwriting.

Subsequently, the complaint was filed and FIR has been registered in Crime No.30/2022 for the offences punishable under Sections 506, 384, 363 r/w 149 of IPC. Anticipatory Bail petition filed by the petitioner no.1 came to be rejected.

Petitioners submissions:

It was said that there are inconsistencies in the version of the complainant and in fact, work was done by the other contractors and the petitioners were only seeking for remittance of money as work was already completed though the tender was allotted to the complainant. It is submitted that if at all the version is to be accepted, it was only a legal demand for the amount and the remaining story is made up by the complainant in order to make unlawful gain.

While the other accused submitted that they would cooperate with investigation and the allegations made against petitioners 3, 4 and 5 who are accused nos.3, 5 and 6 do not warrant subjection to custodial interrogation.

Prosecution opposed the plea:

It was contended that the allegations made against petitioner nos.1 and 2 are serious in nature and custodial interrogation is required insofar as cheque is stated to have been made out in the name of second petitioner, who has taken the cheque and for the purpose of recovery as well, their custodial interrogation is required.

Further, insofar as accused no.1 is concerned, it is pointed out that petitioner no.1 who is accused no.1 was also arrayed as accused no.1 in Crime No.81/2019 for the offences punishable under Sections 504 and 506 of IPC r/w 3 (1) (r) and 3 (1) (s) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and that anticipatory bail application insofar as accused no.1 came to be rejected by order dated 15.03.2022 in filed seeking enlargement on Anticipatory Bail.

Court findings:

Firstly the court accepted the submission of the prosecution that the car in which the complainant was taken to Laxman Palace lodge where he was made to write a cheque was belonging to the accused no 1. It said, "The car was seized during the investigation process and the car was released by accused no.1 and this by itself would indicate the involvement of vehicle belonging to accused no.1 and prima-facie, the allegations made against accused no.1 are serious. The said submission requires acceptance."

Taking into account the details mentioned in the complaint and the submission of the prosecution the court said,  "This court is of the view that petitioner no.1 cannot seek extension of discretionary order of anticipatory bail."

It added, "Insofar as accused no.2 is concerned, the contention of learned HCGP is that cheque has been drawn in the name of accused no.2 and accused no.2 has taken the cheque as is made out in the version of the complainant and accordingly, for the purpose of recovery and also in light of allegations made in the complaint regarding accused no.2, the contention that custodial interrogation is necessary cannot be said to be without basis."

Then the bench observed, "The custodial interrogation is qualitatively different from interrogation and in light of the stand of the prosecution that custodial interrogation is required for petitioner nos.1 and 2 and in light of the discussion as made above, petition insofar as it relates to petitioner nos.1 and 2 (accused nos.1 and 2) is rejected."

The court granted anticipatory bail to three other co-accused and said, "They could be enlarged on anticipatory bail subject to their participation in the investigation by putting them on terms."

It added, "When compared to the other accused, allegations against them are not grievous in nature. Accordingly, case is made out to enlarge petitioner nos.3, 4 and 5 (accused nos.3, 5 and 6) on bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh with one surety of likesum."

The court also clarified the further course for the police to undertake on the application of the accused no 1 and 2 having been rejected. It said, "All that this court would like to express is, it is for the police authorities upon accused nos.1 and 2 presenting themselves for interrogation to take an appropriate decision keeping in mind the directions in the case of Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar and Another reported in (2014) 8 SCC 273 as may be applicable in the present matter."

Case Title: Srikanth L Ghotnekar and Other v. State of Karnataka

Case No: Criminal Petition no 2912/2022

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 133

Date of Order: April 8, 2022

Appearance: Advocate Srinivas B Naik for petitioner; Advocate Renukaradhya R D for respondents

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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