Corporator Gowramma arrested in Tamil Nadu
SIT formed to investigate Lingaraju murder
The City police on Wednesday morning arrested Azadnagar Congress corporator Gowramma from Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, in connection with the murder of RTI activist Lingaraju.
Later in the day, the High Court constituted a special investigation team (SIT) headed by Bangalore’s Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime-West) Pranab Mohanty to probe the murder.
Lingaraju was hacked to death on November 20 by a gang that was allegedly hired by Gowramma’s husband Govindaraju. The murder was said to be a revenge killing as Lingaraju had lodged a complaint against Gowramma and Govindaraju with the Lokayukta police.
Acting on the complaint, the Lokayukta police had raided the house and offices of Gowramma and seized properties worth Rs 15 crore.
The City police had arrested eight men, including Govindaraju, who had paid Rs 20 lakh to Velu and his gang to bump off Lingaraju. Though it was suspected that Gowramma too was part of the conspiracy, she was not arrested. This had resulted in the Karnataka High Court pulling up the police.
A team from Chamarajpet police station arrested Gowramma, who was on a pilgrimage to the temple town, following her daughter's marriage recently.
As investigations progressed, the police had discovered that Gowramma had pawned her gold jewellery with a co-operative bank for Rs 20 lakh three days before the murder to pay the hired killers.
Meanwhile, SIT chief Mohanty told Deccan Herald that the team would take over the probe soon and submit the investigation report within the prescribed 90 days.
Policy on whistleblowers
Disposing of a suo motu public interest litigation petition, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B V Nagarathna directed the SIT to submit its report within February 10, 2013.
“Following a memo by additional advocate that the State has no objection to form a SIT, the same is constituted under the chairmanship of Mohanty and Arshad Ahmed, SP, CID, as another member to probe the murder. The SIT is at liberty to co-opt any other officer, if required,” the Bench said.
When amicus curiae, Hashmath Pasha emphasised that there was no policy in the State to provide security and protection to whistleblowers and RTI activists, the Bench directed the State government to formulate a policy to protect the RTI activists and whistle blowers as done in Haryana.
Earlier, the government counsel R Devdas informed the Court of Gowramma’s arrest. He also submitted that a notification to withdraw the appointment of Agasimani as public prosecutor has been issued.
On a suggestion by State Public Prosecutor Chandramouli, amicus curiae agreed that Sadashivamurthy, former director of prosecution be appointed special public prosecutor to assist the court in this case. Subsequently, the court disposed of the matter.
The Bench, while appreciating the efforts of the State and the amicus curiae, directed the government to pay Rs 40,000 as honorarium to the amicus curiae for assisting the court. However, Pasha told the Bench that the amount be paid to Lingaraju’s wife.
On Pasha’s request, the Bench directed the government to provide security to the witnesses to the murder.