A man accused in the 2017 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh will face tougher charges of organised crime, the Supreme Court ruled today, cancelling a Karnataka High Court order.
Charges against accused Mohan Nayak under the Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (KCOCA) were dropped by the High Court in April, after which Gauri Lankesh's sister Kavita Lankesh had approached the Supreme Court.
Gauri Lankesh was shot dead on the night of September 5, 2017, from close range near her house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru.
Kavita Lankesh, a filmmaker, had said in her petition before the Supreme Court that Mohan Nayak, according to a special investigation team (SIT) probe, is part of a 'syndicate' responsible for multiple instances of organised crime, including the murder of her sister and other activists, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare.
According to Kavitha Lankesh's petition, Nayak is also a close associate of Amol Kale and Rajesh Bangera, both of who are the chief accused in the case. The plea mentions that as defined by the KCOCA, Nayak was involved in "continuous unlawful activity" by providing shelter to the key accused individuals before and after the crime.
Ms Lankesh's counsel also referred to the role of the accused, as noted in the high court order, and said that he had allegedly taken a house on rent in the guise of running an acupressure clinic but it was meant to accommodate members of the syndicate.
The high court had struck down the August 14, 2018 order of the police authority granting approval to invoke KCOCA for investigation against Nayak. On September 21, the Supreme Court had reserved its decision on the petition challenging the order of the High Court.
The 3-member SC bench that set aside the high court order comprised of Justices A. M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and C. T. Ravikumar.