Gauri Lankesh murder: Supreme Court restores KCOCA charges against accused

Gauri Lankesh in 2015. Credit: Esha Lankesh

The Supreme Court on Thursday restored the charges under the Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (KCOCA) against accused Mohan Nayak in the Gauri Lankesh murder case.

Allowing an appeal filed by Gauri Lankesh’s sister Kavita Lankesh, a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar sets aside the judgment of the Karnataka High Court which had quashed the KCOCA charges against Mohan Nayak.

Lankesh, senior journalist and vocal opponent of Hindu nationalism, was shot dead by Hindutva armed men on the night of September 5, 2017, from a close range near her house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru.

“We are tentatively indicating to you that we are inclined to quash the last part of the order. On prior approval, even if we uphold the finding given by the high court, the fact remains that nothing prevents the investigating agency to investigate on the factum of whether you are member of that syndicate or not and to present charge sheet after collating the material in that regard,” the bench told the counsel appearing for Nayak.

“So far as you are concerned, what has been given to you is bonus. The charge sheet has also been quashed,” observed the bench, which reserved its order on the petitions.

Supreme Court of India also questioned the counsel appearing for the state as to how approval for invoking KCOCA was granted by the authority without there being any prior offence registered against the accused and how could he be levelled as a member of the organised crime syndicate, PTI news agency reported.

When Nayak’s counsel termed the law “draconian”, the bench said, “Once the validity of the Act has been upheld, how can you say draconian?”.

“These laws have their own purpose,” the bench said.

The lawyer said the law has been misused and that is why they have approached the court.

The counsel appearing for Kavitha Lankesh, referred to the role of the accused, as noted in the high court order, and said it is alleged that he had taken a house on rent in the guise of running acupressure clinic but it was meant to accommodate the members of the syndicate.

According to Live Law report, the apex court on September 21, 2021 had reserved the orders after hearing detailed submissions made by Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for Kavita Lankesh and Advocate Basava Prabhu S Patil appearing for accused Mohan Nayak.