Updated: February 3, 2021 7:41:04 am
The Karnataka High Court has sought details of the cases withdrawn by the state government on the request of ministers and elected representatives. It has also asked whether public prosecutors were alerted to its order of December 1, 2020, saying prosecutors must not blindly implement August 31, 2020, state government order to withdraw 62 cases.
The High Court’s directive followed a report by The Indian Express on January 29 that between October and December 2020, 21 cases related to communal incidents or cow protection had been dropped by courts in Karnataka on the basis of the August 31 order. The beneficiaries included BJP Mysuru MP Prathap Simha, 206 members of Hindu groups, and 106 Muslims. The report had been brought to the court’s notice.
After the state government sought time to file its reply, the case was posted to February 15.
Observing that the newspaper had reported that 21 cases had been withdrawn, a High Court Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Sreenivas Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum said, “To avoid any controversy, we direct that apart from reporting compliances with the order dated 1st December 2020, the state government will place on record the details of the cases, in which the applications under Section 321 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, were made in relation to cases covered by the order dated 31st August 2020.”
The Bench added, “The details of the applications made from 1st December 2020 onwards shall be placed on record. While placing the details on record, the state government will also state whether the public prosecutors who filed the applications from 1st December 2020 onwards were provided with a copy of the order dated 1st December 2020.”
On August 31, the BJP government in Karnataka had withdrawn prosecution in 62 cases following requests by political leaders like then Law Minister J C Madhuswamy, Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chavan and several other elected representatives. A majority of the cases involved communal incidents, while others dealt with protests by farmers and BJP supporters among others.
On a plea by the People’s Union of Civil Liberties challenging the August 31 order, the High Court had said on December 1 that prosecutors should not act like “post-boxes” in implementing the state order but must carry out due diligence and take a position. Subsequently, on December 21, the High Court had ordered a stay on the August 31 order, after the government did not put up a compliance report sought by it.
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