The Karnataka High Court has granted bail to Mohan Nayak N, the 11th accused in the infamous Gauri Lankesh murder case. Nayak is alleged to have conspired with other accused individuals in the murder plot of the prominent journalist. This marks the first instance of an accused in the Gauri Lankesh murder case being granted bail.
The bail was approved by a single-judge bench presided over by Justice S Vishwanath Shetty. According to the investigation, Nayak played a key role by renting a house in an isolated location at Ramanagara for planning the murder. He provided shelter to accused number 2 and 3, who are identified as the actual assailants in the case.
One of the primary grounds on which Nayak was granted bail is the delay in the trial proceedings. The High Court noted that out of the 527 charge sheet witnesses, only 90 have been examined so far. Despite a direction from the court in 2019 to expedite the trial, charges were framed in October 2021, but the progress has been slow. The court observed, “Petitioner has been in custody for the last more than five years,” and expressed concerns about the trial not being completed anytime soon.
Nayak faces charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Indian Arms Act, 1959, and the Karnataka Control of Organized Crimes Act, 2000 (COCA). The court, taking into account the prolonged custody and the slow pace of the trial, decided to grant bail to Nayak.
Gauri Lankesh, a well-known journalist, was murdered outside her residence in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017, by bike-borne assailants. The police arrested a total of 17 men in connection with the case and claim that Gauri’s murder is linked to the killings of Kannada writer M M Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, and Narendra Dabholkar in Maharashtra. Nayak has been released on a personal bond of Rs one lakh and two sureties for similar amounts.