NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its order on an appeal filed by filmmaker Kavitha Lankesh, sister of journalist Gauri Lankesh, challenging the Karnataka High Court order quashing charges under the Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (KCOCA) against one of the accused in the murder of her sister.
Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmedi, representing Lankesh, contended before a bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar that the charge sheet categorically made out a case of a syndicate involved in the offence, therefore the argument whether a particular person was not part of earlier crimes of the syndicate was irrelevant. Citing that incident occurred four years ago, he added that charges were yet to be framed in the case.
Senior advocate Basava Prabhu Patil, representing the accused Mohan Nayak, cited distinction between “abettor” or “harbourer” and “a member of a crime syndicate” under the KCOCA, and emphasised that the abettor cannot be necessarily equated to a syndicate member.
Querying whether it is correct to brand a person as a member of organised crime, at the stage of FIR against him, he cited the absence of proof against his client, establishing his participation in unlawful activities of the syndicate.
The bench also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar after hearing detailed arguments in the matter reserved the order.
Ahmedi, contesting Patil’s submissions, contended since the accused had harboured other accused, he was deemed to come under the organised crime act.
Earlier, the apex court had ordered that Nayak’s bail plea, after dropping of stringent charges, cannot be allowed until it decides this matter.
The plea claimed the investigation by the SIT has revealed that Nayak was part of the syndicate led by Amol Kale which has committed multiple organised crimes apart from the murder of Gauri Lankesh.
The plea said charge sheets have been filed with respect to the murders of Dr Narendra Dabolkar in 2013, Govind 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 cognisance by competent court stands fulfilled and invocation of KCOCA against Respondent No. 6 (Nayak) stands justified,” added the plea.
Gauri Lankesh was killed on September 5, 2017 outside her house at Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Bengaluru. -IANS