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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The Supreme Court held that the accused's precise role does not have to be specified in the order providing prior approval under Section 24(1)(a) of the Karnataka Control of Organized Crimes Act, 2000.
  • While setting aside the Karnataka High Court judgement that had quashed charges under the Karnataka Control of Organized Crimes Act (KCOCA) against accused Mohan Nayak in the Gauri Lankesh murder case, the bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and CT Ravikumar stated that the prior approval is qua offence and not the offender as such.

BACKGROUND

  • The State and Kavitha Lankesh, Gauri Lankesh's sister, filed two separate appeals challenging the Karnataka High Court's April 22 judgement, which were both granted by a three-judge bench.
  • The court stated that at this point, the competent authority must concentrate primarily on the question of whether the information/material discloses the commission of an organised crime by an organised crime syndicate.
  • In this case, the Bengaluru City Commissioner of Police granted Mohan Nayak prior authorisation to prosecute him under Section 3 of the Karnataka Control of Organized Crimes Act, 20001.
  • The Supreme Court had to decide whether the competent authority's prior approval granted under Section 24(1)(a) was lawful.

COURT’S DECISION

  • The apex court stated that the high court's decision to partially admit accused Mohan Nayak N's appeal before it was clearly incorrect and could not be upheld.
  • The bench noted that the high court had overturned the Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru City's, August 14, 2018 order based on prior approval to prosecute the accused under section 3 of the KCOCA.
  • Furthermore, the High Court had clearly overstepped its bounds by quashing the charge sheet filed against the writ petitioner, Mohan Nayak N, for offences punishable under sections 3(2), 3(3), and 3(4) of the 2000 Act at this stage (of prior approval under section 24(1)(a)), according to the bench's 29-page judgement.
  • In its decision, the Supreme Court stated that for offences punishable under sections 3(2), 3(3), 3(4), or 3(5) of the Act, any person can be prosecuted even if he has no prior criminal record if there is evidence that he is a member of the organised crime syndicate that committed the crimes in question and that there is evidence of his nexus with the accused who is a member of the organised crime syndicate.
  • The High Court, it added, had entirely glossed over the key point that the accused only filed the writ case after the competent body had granted sanction, and that the competent court had also taken cognizance of the alleged organised crime offence, to which there was no challenge.
  • Taking any perspective of the situation, the bench stated that these appeals deserve to be heard and that the high court's impugned judgement and order must be overturned.
  • It stated that the accused's plea being rejected would not prevent him from seeking alternative legal remedies that may be open to him.
  • The bench stated that its decision is restricted to the subject of whether the Commissioner of Police's prior approval of August 14, 2018, was legal or not, and that it found no flaws in it.

What are your views on the whole issue? Do you think the Supreme Court was right in quashing the High Court’s orders? Let us know in the comments below!

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