The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a CBI probe into the death of former Mangaluru Deputy Superintendent of Police M K Ganapathy, saying there were “startling facts” in the case that needed to be investigated. Ganapathy was found dead at a lodge in Madikeri, Karnataka, on July 7 last year. The incident was treated as a suicide. However, before his death, he had given an interview to a Kannada TV channel wherein he accused former home minister and Congress leader K J George and two senior policemen of harassment.
The order came from a bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit on a plea filed by Ganapathy’s father M K Kushalappa. “There are certain startling facts in the case. Whether it is murder or suicide, it is required to be investigated in a fair manner,” the court said, giving the CBI three months to complete the probe.
The court said it was not determining the nature of the offence or who was guilty. “But public confidence and societal requirement demand that the guilty persons must be reached,” it said.
The Karnataka government had vehemently opposed the demand for a CBI probe, saying a thorough investigation had already been done. Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who represented the state government, said he would furnish material to show the probe was fair. Senior counsel Abhishek Singhvi, who appeared for George, contended that Ganapathy was suffering from depression and had undergone treatment for it.
Kushalappa’s counsel Jayant Bhushan said the state CID probed the matter and filed a closure report before getting the forensic report. He contended that a probe by a state agency like the CID was not enough when a former home minister and two senior policemen were under the lens.
George, who was holding the post of Bengaluru Development Minister at the time of Ganapathy’s death, had quit following the uproar.
“We welcome the decision to hand over investigation to the CBI. The BJP is demanding the resignation of George on account of the decision. The court has asked for a CBI investigation and report. There is no need for George to resign,” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said.
Ganapathy, who had faced investigations over an encounter death and for corruption during his career, committed suicide in Madikeri in his home district of Kodagu. Ahead of his death, Ganapathy told a local television channel that George and two senior police officers — A M Prasad and Pranav Mohanty — would have to be blamed if anything untoward happened to him.
Amid the political uproar over his death, Ganapathy’s teenage son filed a complaint against the minister and the police officers. The Karnataka government ordered a CID probe even as the minister stepped down and the two officers were transferred out of executive roles.
The CID probe cited distress in his professional and personal life, suicide of a colleague DSP Kallappa Handibag on July 5, and mental health problems as possible factors for the death. Shortly after the filing of the CID report, George was reinstated as a minister in the Congress government while A M Prasad was recently appointed as the state intelligence chief. Pranav Mohanty is on central deputation.
The Karnataka High Court had on October 19, 2016, rejected pleas by Ganapathy’s father Kushalappa and brother Machaiah for a CBI probe in the matter stating that “transferring of investigation must be in rare and exceptional cases only. All steps were taken for ensuring a fair investigation.” The family of the officer then approached the Supreme Court.