Mohan Nayak, Gauri Lankesh murder accused, Granted Bail by Karnataka High Court; First Bail in Case

The Court stated that none of the witnesses had mentioned Nayak’s presence at the alleged meeting where the accused plotted to kill Lankesh.

Recently, the Karnataka High Court granted bail to a man named Mohan Nayak, who is charged with killing activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot and killed in 2017.

In connection with the case, Nayak is the first person to receive bail.

In the order, Justice S Viashwajith Shetty noted that none of the 23 witnesses who discussed Nayak’s role claimed to have been present at the meeting where the accused allegedly planned to kill Lankesh.

It further stated that the majority of those witnesses have only mentioned Nayak renting a home in Kumbalagodu, on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

The prosecution claimed that he had rented the house in order to provide actual attackers in the case with a place to stay.

The court also pointed out flaws in the confessions made during the case and pointed out that they were made before authorization to use the Karnataka Control of Organized Crimes Act (COCA) was given.

It concluded, therefore, that the confessions might not fall under Section 19 of the COCA.

“Recorded by such police officer either in writing or on any mechanical devices like cassettes, tapes or sound tracks from which sounds or images can be reproduced shall be admissible in the trial,” the provision reads, refers to a confession made by an individual before a police officer not lower than the rank of Superintendent of Police.

Even so, in this instance, Section 19’s requirements have not been met. The Court further stated that the confessions were not documented by a Superintendent of Police-level officer in accordance with Section 19 of the COCA.

The Court further stated that offenses under the COCA are not only punishable by death or life in prison, but also carry a minimum five-year sentence. This is true even if charges under the Act are proven against the accused.

Nayak has been in detention for more than five years, according to the record. In light of this, the Court held that, despite the COCA’s specific requirements for granting an expanded bail to an accused person, those requirements cannot restrict the court’s authority to provide relief when there is an excessive delay.

The Court came to the conclusion that the accused was not responsible for the delay and that the trial might not be finished at any point.

The bench granted Nayak bail, saying, “Under the circumstances, I am of the view that the prayer made by the petitioner in this petition needs to be answered affirmatively.”

The accused had previously been denied regular bail twice by the High Court.

The accused, who is requesting bail due to the trial’s delayed conclusion, claimed that only 90 of the 527 chargesheet witnesses have been questioned thus far.

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