Why not CBI probe into court fiasco, HC asks govt

Why not CBI probe into court fiasco, HC asks govt

The High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday deplored the State government for its unwillingness to order a CBI inquiry into the March 2 violence at the City Civil Courts complex.

“Who is going to be upset if the matter is probed by the CBI? Isn’t that an attempt to exonerate the guilty policemen” Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen questioned the Advocate General, S Vijay Shankar, while hearing a writ petition filed by the Advocates’ Association, Bangalore (AAB) and others, on Wednesday.

The petitioners have sought a CBI inquiry into the incident, besides action against the police personnel for their “excesses” as established by the inquiry conducted by the DGP (CID), R K Dutta.

The Chief Justice observed that the government should not be averse to a CBI inquiry. “It should not mind it,” he said, pointing out that the CBI may file a ‘B’ report that would absolve the police personnel of all allegations. He also said that a CBI inquiry would also help take action against the guilty lawyers.

The Division Bench, also consisting of Justice B V Nagarathna, appeared unhappy when the AG hinted that the lawyers were pressuring it.

“There is zero pressure. No pressure in the least. (Earlier) they said what you are doing is not correct, did we listen to them?” the CJ observed, referring to lawyers’ demand for striking work in the High Court.

It orally favoured a CBI inquiry, saying “in such matters with wide implications, an impartial inquiry is necessary”. The Bench, however, made it clear that the proposal for inquiry should come from the government. “It should be on your invitation and with mutual understanding (with the petitioners),” it said.

The counsels for the petitioners argued that since the allegations were against top officials, including the then DG&IGP, Shankar Bidari, a CBI probe would be most appropriate. In response, the AG argued that unless proved that investigation had been interfered with by hidden forces, there was no need for a CBI inquiry. They should also prove whether guilty policemen were being shielded.

“Kindly take overall view of the investigation so far.” The case does not warrant a CBI inquiry which should be ordered only in four cases — corruption in central government and public sector undertakings, sensational economic frauds and high-value bank scams, and cases with inter-state, and international ramifications.

Shankar informed the Court that the government was willing to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to be headed by the Joint Commissioner (Crime), Pranob Mohanty, to exclusively investigate the case.

“Let the SIT complete the job. It’s only when the final report is filed can another inquiry be ordered. Till then, no conclusions are drawn,” Shankar submitted. The CJ quickly retorted Shankar who referred to a Supreme Court judgement on a petty incident. He said: “Which is that three-letter word? Which rocked the State for 10 days, is it a petty incident?”

  The hearing lasted five hours, and it was found that notices to the Chief Minister and the Home Minister, who are also the respondents, were not served. The Court adjourned the matter for Thursday, directing the AG to inform it if the government is willing for a CBI inquiry.

Mohanty told to leave court hall

The HC pulled up Mohanty when he tried to instruct the AG while the latter was making submissions. “Is he neutral? He’s not the only person in police force who knows the law. He’s sitting with people who are instructing you and you show him as an independent officer,” the CJ said.

The AG denied that he was taking any instructions from him. The CJ then told the court officer: "Tell him (Mohanty) to leave the court."Mohanty  immediately left.

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