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Gauri Lankesh Murder Case: Supreme Court To Hear Sister's Plea Challenging Quashing Of KCOCA Charges Against Accused On September 8

Shruti Kakkar
16 Aug 2021 9:42 AM GMT
Gauri Lankesh Murder Case: Supreme Court To Hear Sisters Plea Challenging Quashing Of KCOCA Charges Against Accused On September 8
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The Supreme Court today listed for final disposal special leave petition filed by filmmaker Kavita Lankesh, sister of Gauri Lankesh who was shot dead in Bengaluru in 2017, challenging a judgment of the Karnataka High Court which quashed the charges under Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (KCOCA) against accused Mohan Nayak for September 8, 2021. The matter was listed for...

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The Supreme Court today listed for final disposal special leave petition filed by filmmaker Kavita Lankesh, sister of Gauri Lankesh who was shot dead in Bengaluru in 2017, challenging a judgment of the Karnataka High Court which quashed the charges under Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (KCOCA) against accused Mohan Nayak for September 8, 2021.

The matter was listed for final disposal by the Division Bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Sanjiv Khanna upon submission of Advocate Basava Prabhu S Patil appearing for accused Mohan Nayak.

"I am in custody for three years, request for earliest date," Nayak's counsel submitted.

Senior Advocate Hufeza Ahmadi, assisted by Advocate Aparna Bhat, appearing for Kavita Lankesh on June 29, 2021 had informed the Supreme Court that Mohan Nayak, accused number 6 in the case, was relying on the impugned judgment to seek bail.

On this, the bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Aniruddha Bose while issuing notice on June 29, 2021, had observed that the bail application should be decided uninfluenced by the impugned judgment.

The SLP arises out of the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh outside her home in Bengaluru on 5th September 2017. The plea submits that complaint was lodged under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code against unknown persons by the Kavita Lankesh and the investigation was entrusted to the SIT, and this investigation clearly indicated that accused persons were involved in an "organized crime syndicate", thereby attracting provisions of KCOCA.

Further investigation found, the plea contended, that Nayak had been actively found providing shelter to the killers, and that he was involved in "continuous unlawful activity" within the meaning of KCOCA. Thereafter, sanction was accorded under Section 24(2) of KCOCA and supplementary chargesheet was also filed.

The plea had submitted that the investigation undertaken had also revealed that the syndicate, which was led by Amol Kale, had committed other crimes as well, including the murder of Dr. Narendra Dabolkar in 2013 in Pune, murder of Govinda Pansare at Kolhapur, Maharashtra in 2015, murder of Dr. MM Kalburgi in 2015, and conspiracy to murder Prof. Mohan Bhagavan of Mysore in 2018.

However, the impugned order of the Karnataka High Court, delivered on 22 April 2021, quashed both the order of the Bengaluru Commissioner of Police as well as the supplementary charge sheet. Therefore, charges under KCOCA were dropped against Nayak.

The instant plea submitted that the Karnataka High Court has erred in its order by "not examining the scheme of Section 24 KCOCA which states that prior approval ought not to be granted by any officer below the rank of Additional Director General of Police which has been duly complied with in the present case".

It further submitted that the High Court failed to appreciate the fact that the sanction order under Section 24(2) KCOCA was neither challenged nor assailed, and only order under Section 24(1)(a) had been challenged.

"...the investigation undertaken by Respondent No. 4 has revealed that Respondent No. 6(Mohan Nayak) is part of the syndicate led by Amol Kale which has committed multiple organized crimes apart from the murder of Gauri Lankesh. Respective charge-sheets have been filed with respect to the murders of Dr. Narendra Dabolkar in 2013, Govinda Pansare in 2015, Dr. M.M. Kalburgi in 2015 and Conspiracy to murder Prof. Bhagavan in 2018. Accordingly, the condition of at least 2 charge-sheets having been filed against the syndicate in the last 10 years along with cognizance by competent court stands fulfilled and invocation of KCOCA against Respondent No. 6 stands justified. The Hon'ble High Court has failed to appreciate that on a bare perusal of several judgments on the question of invoking provisions of KCOCA, it is revealed that the requirement of one or more charge-sheet relates to unlawful activity of an organized crime syndicate and does not pertain to a particular member of the crime syndicate"

In light of the above, the appeal had prayed for a stay on the operation of the final judgement and order dated 22 April, 2021 passed by the Karnataka High Court.

Observing that "the appellant cannot take the benefit of delay in taking cognizance in order to claim statutory bail," the Karnataka High Court recently dismissed a petition seeking bail filed by Mohan Nayak who is an accused in the journalist Gauri Lankesh murder case.

Justice Sreenivas Harish Kumar, who decided the bail application, observed that mere delay on the part of the Magistrate to take cognizance of the charge sheet filed will not make the detention illegal and statutory bail cannot be claimed on this ground.

Case Title: Kavitha Lankesh v. State of Karnataka

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