Police asked if media leak was to undermine whistleblower

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday recommended the constitution of a Special Investigation team or a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) into the murder of RTI activist Lingaraju.

Protection sought

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B.V. Nagarathna passed this order after it was brought to its notice that Lingaraju had approached various authorities, including the Chief Minister and the Home Minister way back in 2010 seeking protection as he feared threat to his life from C. Govindaraju, husband of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) councillor Gowramma.

Encroachment of tank

Govindaraju, who has since been arrested, had been threatening Lingaraju ever since he complained about encroachment of 9 acres of tank bed and running of a powerloom illegally by Govindaraju’s henchmen.

Declaration

Interestingly, the court-appointed amicus curiae, Hashmath Pasha, produced a copy of the declaration made by Lingaraju on a stamp paper sent to the Chief Minister and State Home Minister in June 2010.

Threat

In it, Lingaraju had, inter alia, said Govindaraju had personally accosted him that year, threatening him with dire consequences if he failed to withdraw the complaints. Lingaraju wrote if something happens to him or his family, it would be the handiwork of Govindaraju and his henchmen.

No action on threat

Mr. Pasha told the Bench the offices of the Chief Minister and the Home Minister had forwarded the declaration to the Bangalore City Police Commissioner for necessary action but nothing happened.

Police version

State Police Chief Lalrokhuma Pachau had already filed an affidavit before the court that Lingaraju had filed a complaint with the Chamrajpet police in 2010 alleging threat from Govindaraju but the then police inspector, after investigation, on January 31, 2011, had filed a B report (closure report) stating that allegations could not be established.

Quoting these instances, Mr. Pasha said there was a conspiracy to eliminate Lingaraju since 2010 and the present investigation is not going in the right direction. Even Councillor Gowramma has not been questioned.

Criticised

The Bench criticised the police for leaking the information to the media that dispute regarding “non-sharing of spoils” between former friends may one of the motives for the murder. “Who leaked this information? Was it to undermine the whistleblower?” the Bench asked.

Phones seized

Meanwhile, government counsel informed the court that mobile phones of both Govindaraju and councillor Gowramma have been seized and call details are being analysed.

Keywords: Lingaraju caseBBMP

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