Listen to this article:
New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear a final petition by Kavitha Lankesh, assassinated journalist Gauri Lankesh’s sister, challenging the Karnataka high court order quashing Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (KCOCA) charges against one of the accused, Mohan Nayak. On Monday (August 16), the apex court listed the matter for hearing on September 8.
In June, a bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar had issued notice to the Karnataka government. At that time, the court had also said that the accused should not be granted bail until Kavitha’s plea was decided on. The accused’s lawyer had asked for an early hearing, saying his client had been in jail for three years now.
Gauri was shot dead outside her home in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017. In her petition saying the KCOCA charges should not be dropped, Kavitha has said that the special investigation team’s probe investigation clearly indicated that accused persons were involved in an “organised crime syndicate”, LiveLaw reported. The same syndicate, according to the SIT, was responsible for the murders of Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare.
The accused Nayak is said to be a close associate of Amol Kale and Rajesh Bangera, both of whom are key accused in the case. According to Kavitha’s petition, Nayak was found to have actively provided shelter to the key accused and was also involved in “continuous unlawful activity” as defined by KCOCA.
In April 2021, the Karnataka high court had quashed the Bengaluru Commissioner of Police’s report as well as the supplementary charge sheet in the case. Because of that, the KCOCA charges against Nayak were dropped.
“In the case on hand there was no registration of any case or filing of any charge sheet or taking of any cognisance even in individual capacity of the petitioner, much less as member of the organised crime syndicate or the commission of crime for and on behalf of the crime syndicate,” the high court had said then.
Kavitha’s plea, according to LiveLaw, says that the high court made a mistake 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”.
Kavitha also said 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”, LiveLaw reported.
After Kavitha, the Karnataka police too approached the Supreme Court against the KCOCA charges being dropped.
The SIT looking into Gauri’s assassination has so far charged and arrested 17 people in the case, all linked to extremist right-wing Hindu groups.
After the high court dropped the KCOCA charges, Nayak approached the same court for bail. This plea was rejected in July, with the court saying that grounds on which the accused wanted bail were not applicable.