SC refuses to restrain CBI from investigating murder

SC refuses to restrain CBI from coercive action in murder of BJP leader

The Supreme Court has refused to grant any immediate relief to the accused in BJP leader Yogeshgouda Goudar murder case in Karnataka's Dharwad on their plea to restrain the CBI from taking any coercive action against them during the "re-investigation" of the matter due to present COVID-19 pandemic.

With this, the CBI can go ahead with its probe into the killing of the district Panchayat member, Dharwad on June 15, 2016. The victim's family members suspected the role of former Minister and Congress leader Vinay Kulkarni into the murder. The CBI had in March nabbed six 'supari' killers.

In May, the accused, Basavaraj Shivappa Muttagi, and another filed an application in the top court saying the CBI should not proceed with re-investigation and take any coercive action during the present situation of nationwide lockdown. They also contended the CBI's plea against the stay on its probe by the Karnataka High Court could not be heard on the last date of March 24 on account of the spread of COVID-19.

On Friday, a bench of Justices R Banumathi, Indu Malhotra, and Aniruddha Bose, however, said, "Considering the facts and circumstances of the case and the issue involved, we are of the view that the matter requires a regular hearing." 

The court put it for consideration in the last week of July 2020.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj and advocate Sanjay K Tyagi appeared for the CBI. Muttagi and another were represented by senior advocate Shashikiran Shetty and advocate Mahesh Thakur.

On a petition by the CBI, the top court had earlier on February 21 stayed the High Court's order of November 21, 2019, that suspended the probe by the central agency into the matter. The Karnataka government also separately challenged the HC's order.

The CBI came into the picture with an order issued by the BS Yeddyurappa government on September 6, 2019, within a couple of months of assuming of charge.

The accused claimed, the order for the CBI to probe the case and subsequent FIR by it on September 24, 2019, was "highly arbitrary, and illegal" and was issued "to wreak political vengeance" against them.

They further contended that on the strength of the apex court's stay, the CBI was trying to arrest the accused in grave injustice to them, despite the fact that they have been on bail and faced the substantial part of a trial in the case probed by the Karnataka CID.

Goudar, 26, was hacked to death on June 15, 2016, at his gym in Saptapur in Dharwad on being immobilised with chilli powder, thrown on his face. 

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