The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside the Karnataka High Court order which quashed the charge sheet against an accused in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh for purported offences under provisions of the Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (KCOCA). Accused slapped with KCOCA find it hard to get bail. A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar allowed the pleas filed by the state and Gauri Lankesh's sister Kavitha Lankesh challenging the high court verdict on April 22 this year. The high court had quashed the August 14, 2018 order of the police authority granting approval to invoke KCOCA for investigation against Mohan Nayak.
Lankesh was shot dead on the night of September 5, 2017, at close range near her house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru.
While hearing arguments in the matter on September 21, the apex court had "tentatively" indicated that it is inclined to set aside a part of the high court order quashing the charge sheet. The top court had also questioned the counsel appearing for the state on the approval for invoking KCOCA being granted by the authority without there being any prior offence registered against the accused.
The state's counsel had said the preliminary charge sheet was filed under provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act. Thereafter, during investigation, the role of the accused came to the notice of the investigation officer after which the approval was sought, he said.
During the arguments, the counsel appearing for the accused had said anyone can be said to be a member of the syndicate if the arguments of the prosecution are to be accepted.
Kavitha Lankesh's counsel had argued that the High Court had erred in coming to the conclusion that KCOCA was not applicable against the accused. He referred to the role of the accused, as noted in the HC order, and said it was alleged he had taken a house on rent in the guise of running an acupressure clinic but it was meant to accommodate members of the syndicate.
In its order, the HC had said, "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 (KCOCA) against the petitioner (Nayak) have no legs to stand."