The State Government on Tuesday informed the Karnataka High Court that after the order of the court dated December 1, 2020, a total of three cases against elected Representatives and Ministers were withdrawn.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum was informed by the government advocate that "After December 1, only three prosecutions have been withdrawn, the details of which will be placed on record." It added "A copy of the order of this court dated December 1, 2020 was forwarded by the Department of Prosecution along with a circular to all concerned divisions and through concerned divisions the circular and copy of order was sent to all concerned public prosecutors."
The court in its order datedDecember 1, 2020, while hearing a petition filed by People Union of Civil Liberties, Karnataka, had observed that Public Prosecutors have to independently apply their mind regarding the filing of withdrawal applications and should not mechanically act on the government instructions. The High Court had also directed the serving of the copy of the order to all Public Prosecutors to make them aware of the correct legal position.
During the hearing today the government advocate submitted that of the three cases withdrawn after the December 1 order of the court, two were allowed to be withdrawn by the court on December 10 and one on December 15. The advocate said "Thereafter no cases have been withdrawn. As subsequently orders are issued by lordships staying implementation of orders of the government."
Recently, the court had taken cognisance of the news report published in 'The Indian Express' stating that even before the December 21 stay order of the High Court, many courts in Karnataka had allowed the withdrawal of as many as 21 cases related to communal violence.
"As many as 21 cases involving communal violence and violence in the course of cow protection were dropped by courts in Karnataka between October and December last year, based on an August 31, 2020 order by the government The beneficiaries were the BJP MP from Mysuru Prathap Simha, 206 members of Hindu groups, and 106 Muslims", the Express report stated. The news report added that the criminal cases were dropped ahead of a December 21, 2020, order of the Karnataka High Court.
On going through the report, the bench had said :
"The State Government will place on record the details of the cases, in which the applications under Section 321 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 were made in relation to cases covered by the order dated 31st August 2020.
The details of applications made from December 1 2020, shall be placed on record while placing the details on record state will inform whether the public prosecutors who filed the applications from December 1, were provided with a copy of order dated December 1."
Following the statement made by the Government, the court granted time to the state government to comply with the order dated December 1, and to file a statement of objections to the petition by March 26.
It may be noted that on December 21, 2020 the division bench had ordered that no further proceedings should be taken on the basis of the August 31, 2020 decision by which it had decided to withdraw 61 cases against legislators.
The plea challenging the August 31 order wherein the Government has granted permission for the withdrawal of prosecution of the 61 cases, under the section 321 of Code of Criminal Procedure
As per the plea, the cases being withdrawn include against the state's Law Minister JC Madhuswamy, Tourism Minister CT Ravi and Agriculture Minister B C Patil. A case from 2017 against Hospete MLA Anand Singh is also sought to be withdrawn. Advocate Clifton D' Rozario, appearing for the petitioners, had argued that the decision was against the rule of law.
The matter will be next heard on March 30.