On March 12, 2018, the third JMFC court delivered the verdict in the Mangaluru pub attack case, which brought the Sri Ram Sene into national limelight nine years ago. The court acquitted all 31 accused, including Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik, of assaulting women at Amnesia – The Lounge, for lack of evidence.
Ten days later, an ex-judge from Karnataka has written an open letter to the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, calling the investigation in the Mangaluru pub attack case “tainted”, and has asked him to pass a suo-moto order for a time-bound reinvestigation in the case.
Justice Michael F Saldanha, who has served in the Bombay High Court, started by saying that he was writing the letter on behalf of a number of citizens of Karnataka, the Subcontinent of India and the rest of the world – all of whom were pained by the acquittal of the accused from Sri Ram Sene.
“Corrective action is required if justice is to be done and this will have to come from several quarters, the first of whom is the judiciary as an atrocity of this type cannot be allowed to pass,” he wrote.
Calling the incident one of the most atrocious ones, he said that it was expected that local courts and police would have “ruthlessly pursued” it, the lack of which is a matter of shame.
Comparing the lack of evidence in the case to Jessica Lal’s murder, he said, “In cases of this type where unholy influences and corruption are both overwhelming the powers that be drag their feet even in the matter of appealing against the verdict.” (sic)
Arguing that a mere appeal in the Mangaluru case would be useless, Justice Saldanha said that the “entire investigation is tainted, where the case is conducted by a like minded prosecutor who produced next to no evidence and where the Court is presided over by a passive Judicial Officer who does not use the law given powers to ensure that there is no miscarriage of justice.”
He then appeals to the CJI to:
a) Call for records and pass an order for suo moto time-bound reinvestigation into the Mangaluru case under the supervision of a High Court judge, serving or retired. The same judge should monitor court proceedings, within a prescribed limit of 90 day trial.
b) The Principal District Judge of Mangaluru should be directed to order an enquiry as to why the case took nine years to adjudicate.
c) The Law Department of Karnataka State Government be directed to submit a report to the High Court about the Public Prosecutor’s role and the non-submission of video evidence.
d) The Director General of Police in Karnataka be directed to submit a report to the High Court about the investigating authorities and police officers “responsible for failure of justice in this case.”
Read the full text of the letter here.