In what could be described as one of the most unusual orders of its kind, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday directed the State Government to provide police protection to a native of Bantwal in Mangalore district, who claimed that he was receiving death threats from Ravi Poojary, Narayan Salian and other criminals.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice A.S. Bopanna directed a reluctant Government to ensure that it gives protection to Rakesh Malli, who said his life is under threat.

When the case came up, senior counsel Ravivarma Kumar, appearing for Mr. Malli, said though two petitions by his client were allowed by single judges, the Mangalore police had failed to provide him protection. He said it is the duty of the police to ensure protection of life and property.

He said his client had filed a contempt petition after the Government refused to comply with two orders from the court. He urged the court to ensure that its orders are complied forthwith.

The Bench then asked Mangalore Superintendent of Police, Subramaneshwar Rao, whether or not he would comply with court orders. When the officer nodded in the affirmative, the Government advocate, V.S. Hegde, urged the court to permit him to make some submissions.

He produced records before the Bench showing that Rakesh Malli had cases booked against him under TADA, the Arms Act and several other provisions.

The records disclosed that Malli, who hails from Bantwal near Mangalore, was investigated for the murder of a general manager of a cellphone company in 1998.

At one point of time, he had 17 criminal cases registered against him relating to attempt to murder, extortion, kidnapping and assault.

Defending the police, Mr. Hegde said the police had no intention of disobeying court orders.

“How can protection be given to a person facing several cases and whose name is in the wanted list in the Police Department, he asked. Meanwhile, Mr. Ravivarma Kumar said he was totally unaware of the earlier antecedents of his client. “I am as much surprised by these revelations as others,” he said.

The Bench, however, pointed out that it is the duty of the State to protect the life of every citizen. Moreover, two judges had directed the State to provide protection and this could not be overlooked, it said.