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Gauri Lankesh murder case: SC restores charges under organised crime law against accused Mohan Nayak

On September 5, 2017, at around 8.00 p.m., some unknown persons murdered Journalist Gauri Lankesh by shooting her near her house. Her sister Kavitha has filed a complaint regarding the same before the Rajarajeshwari Nagar police station. A charge sheet was filed against KT Naveen Kumar for the offence.

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The Supreme Court today has restored the charges under Karnataka Control of Organized Crime Act 2000 (KCOCA) against accused Mohan Nayak in the Activist Gauri Lankesh Murder case.

A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar has set aside the order of Karnataka High Court which had quashed the charges against the accused in the appeal filed by Filmmaker Kavitha Lankesh, sister of deceased Gauri Lankesh.

The bench has observed that though benefit could be given to the accused prior to the approval stage, the act of quashing the charge sheet was “incorrect”.

Appellant Kavitha Lankesh’s counsel argued that, as noted in the High Court order, it was alleged that the accused had taken a house on rent in the guise of running an acupressure clinic but it was only to accommodate members of the syndicate.

It was further alleged that the SIT investigation has revealed that accused Nayak was part of the syndicate led by Amol Kale involved in multiple organized crimes other than the present case. Earlier charge sheets have been filed against the members of the syndicate in different cases like Dr Narendra Dabolkar in 2013, Govinda Pansare in 2015, M.M. Kalburgi in 2015 etc.

On September 5, 2017, at around 8.00 p.m., some unknown persons murdered Journalist Gauri Lankesh by shooting her near her house. Her sister Kavitha has filed a complaint regarding the same before the Rajarajeshwari Nagar police station. A charge sheet was filed against KT Naveen Kumar for the offence punishable under Sections 302,114,118,120B, 35 of IPC read with Sections 3 and 25 of Arms Act.

The Commissioner of Police, purportedly acting under Section 24(1)(a) of the Karnataka Control of Organized Crime Act 2000, granted approval to the Investigation Officer to conduct further investigation invoking Section 3 of the Karnataka Control of Organized Crime Act 2000.

Earlier, The High Court had partly allowed the petition filed by the accused Mohan Nayak, who sought to quash the order dated August 14, 2018, passed by the Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru City against him.

The Counsel for Nayak had raised various grounds and challenged the order granting permission under Section 24(1)(a) Act against him (i) That he was not involved in continuing unlawful activity as contemplated in Section 2(1)(d) of the Act; (ii) The charge sheet allegations do not attract organized crime as contemplated under Section 2(e) of the Act; & (iii) By such unlawful invocation of Section 24(1)(a) of the Act, personal liberty of the accused is violated.

The High Court had observed that all the subsequent acts namely sanction order, charge sheet and the order taking cognizance flow from the approval order. If the approval order itself is bad in law, the sanction order, the charge sheet and the approval order so far as the offences under the Act against the respondent have no legs to stand.

Nayak not only sought quashing of the approval order but also has sought for quashing of the additional charge sheet filed invoking Section 3 of the Act and Section 302, 114, 118, 120B read with Section 35 of IPC and Sections 3 and 25 of the Arms Act. The substantial challenge was against the invocation of the provisions of the Act, the prayer of the accused was considered only to that extent. The additional charge sheet filed by investigating officer against the accused of the offences under Sections 3(1)(i), 3(2), 3(3) and 3(4) of the Act was quashed.–

13309-2021-3-1501-30790-Judgement-21-Oct-2021

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