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Human Rights

Gauri Lankesh murder case: SC issues notices to the accused and State government 

Hearing a plea to cancel the bail of the accused in the Gauri Lankesh murder case, the Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to the accused and the Karnataka government seeking their detailed response. The two-judge bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Satish Chandra Sharma sought the responses within four weeks.

The notices were issued in response to the petition moved by the victim’s sister Kavita Lankesh, seeking a direction from the Top Court on Karnataka High Court’s decision to grant bail to the accused in the murder case of journalist Gauri Lankesh, Mohan Nayak.

The Karnataka High Court had granted bail to Mohan Nayak on December 7, 2023, after rejecting it initially, citing the delay in the trial. The bail order by Justice S Viashwajith Shetty noted that none of the 23 witnesses said that he participated in the meeting that plotted the murder of Lankesh, although they did testify about his involvement. It also said that most of the witnesses had only told that Nayak had rented a house on the outskirts of Bangalore, which according to the prosecution was used to shelter the assailants. 

HC said that the accused (Mohan Nayak) has been in custody for more than five years already and pointed out that the charges, under the Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act (KCOCA), invoked against Nayak, did not warrant a life sentence or a death sentence even if the charges are proved against him. It concluded that the trial would not end anytime soon, which is not attributable to the accused and hence had granted him bail. 

Mohan Nayak, who is alleged to have been a part of the conspiracy to murder Lankesh, was the first of the 17 accused, to be granted bail from the Karnataka HC. This was challenged by the victim’s sister who moved the Top Court to seek cancellation of the bail granted.

Gauri Lankesh, 55, was murdered on September 5, 2017, by alleged right-wing extremists in the capital of Karnataka, Bangalore. She was a journalist, an activist and the editor of a Kannada weekly tabloid named ‘Lankesh Patrika’. Lankesh, who is renowned for speaking her mind against casteism, oppression against the marginalized, and human rights was shot dead outside her residence, and was celebrated by right-wing supporters online. 

Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi with advocates Aparna Bhat, Rohan Sharma, and Rashmi Singh appeared on behalf of Kavitha Lankesh before the apex court. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) is probing the case.

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