In response to an RTI filed by The Indian Express, Karnataka state home department admitted that in the course of a four-year tenure from July 2019 to April 2023, the BJP government in Karnataka issued seven separate orders to drop the prosecution in 385 criminal cases, including 182 cases of hate speech, cow vigilantism, and communal violence.
Quashing cases of communal crimes benefited over 1,000 accused including a BJP MP and MLA. A total of 2000 accused got relief in the overall withdrawal process.
The majority of the 182 cases with communal links withdrawn pertain to the Congress government’s tenure between 2013 and 2018.
Incidentally between 2013 and 2018, the Congress government in Karnataka, under the leadership of Siddaramaiah, had ordered the dropping of 176 cases against nearly 1,600 activists of the Socialist Democratic Party of India and now-banned Popular Front of India, most of which were linked to the violation of prohibitory orders.
Of the 182 cases with communal links dropped under the BJP government, 45 pertain to violence allegedly by right-wing activists in the Uttara Kannada district in December 2017, following the death of a Hindu youth, Paresh Mesta. It was later found to be an accidental death by the CBI.
Courts mostly complied with the government order for the withdrawal of cases.
The rare exception was when a civil judge and magistrate in Sirsi in Uttara Kannada ignored a government order of February 28, 2023, to withdraw prosecution against 66 people in the communal violence following Mesta’s case, and committed the case for trial, IE reported.