The Supreme Court has asked the Karnataka High Court to decide the bail plea of one of the accused in the murder of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh without being influenced by an order quashing charges against him. The top court sought a response from the Karnataka government on a plea made by sister of slain journalist challenging the dropping of organised crime charges against accused Mohan Nayak in the case.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar issued notice to the Karnataka government and others while seeking their response on the appeal filed by Lankesh’s sister Kavitha Lankesh against the high court order. “Issue notice on the applications seeking permission to file special leave petition, prayer for interim relief and special leave petition.
“After hearing counsel for the respondent No.6, for the time being, we observe that the bail application filed by respondent No.6 before the high court be decided without being influenced by the impugned order. For, it is a subject matter of challenge in this special leave petition," the bench also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Annirudhha Bose said. The apex court has posted the matter for next hearing on July 15.
According to the appeal filed by Kavitha, Nayak is relying on the impugned judgement of the Karnataka High Court, which quashed charges against him on April 22, to seek bail. The high court had quashed the charges saying, “All the subsequent acts namely sanction order, charge sheet and the order taking cognisance 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 Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act against the petitioner (Nayak) have no legs to stand," the high court had said.
Kavita’s lawyer told the top court that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) had revealed that Nayak was part of a syndicate. which was behind several instances of organised crime. Lankesh was shot dead on the night of September 5, 2017, from a close range in front of her Rajarajeshwari Nagar house around 8 pm.