Bengaluru, Dec 21 (Aryavarth) Karnataka High Court on Monday stayed the state government’s cabinet decision to drop 61 charges against its ministers and elected representatives.
“We direct that no further steps shall be taken on the basis of the order dated August 31, 2020,” the division bench, headed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, ordered.
The court also ordered the government to file its objection by January 22, 2021.
The order was based on a petition filed by an NGO, People’s Union of Civil Liberties, challenging the government decision to withdraw prosecution of 61 cases under section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
During the previous hearing of the case on December 1, the High Court cited an Apex Court order.
It maintained that even if state government instructs to the public prosecutor to withdraw from the prosecution of a case, the latter after applying his mind to the facts of the case may either agree with the instructions and file a petition before the court stating grounds of withdrawal or disagree therewith having found a good case for prosecution and refuse to file the withdrawal petition.
“It is further observed that in the event the Public Prosecutor disagrees, he will have to return the brief. The Public Prosecutor cannot act like a postbox or act on the dictates of the state government and he has to act objectively as he is also an officer of the court,” the court said.
It further stated that the action under section 321 of the CrPC can be taken only with the permission of the Court.
“No Court is bound by such a decision taken to withdraw from the prosecution. Even if an application is made under Section 321 of CrPC, the Courts are duty bound to assess whether a prima facie case is made out or not and that the Court has power to reject the prayer,” the court had observed.
The People’s Union of Civil Liberties had taken serious note of Karnataka government decision to drop criminal cases against several BJP leaders also included one against the state’s Law Minister J. C. Madhuswamy and BJP national general secretary C. T. Ravi, charged under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly) and 147 (rioting) of the Indian Penal Code.
The case was related to a scuffle that broke out between students of two communities in Mysuru district’s Hunsur city in November 2015.
A separate case from 2017 that was withdrawn against Hospete MLA and Forest Minister, S. Anand Singh pertained to blocking of the taluk office by 300 locals after stone-pelting and vandalism.
The incident had led to property damage of Rs 3 lakh. Singh, who was then with the Congress, was accused of criminal intimidation, assault on a government official and obstruction of duty.