The High Court of Karnataka has transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) further investigation into cases related to murder of a real estate businessman in which D.A. Srinivas, 48, son of the late D.K. Adikeshavulu (who was an industrialist, a former MP, and a former chairperson of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams), is the prime accused.
The High Court found it necessary to hand over the case to the CBI on noticing glaring lacunae in the probe conducted by a Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was set up by the government on the directions of the court.
Justice M. Nagaprasanna passed the order while partly allowing a petition filed by M. Manjula and Rohith, wife and son of the late K. Raghunath, who was allegedly murdered in May 2019. Raghunath was a close associate of Adikeshavulu.
Failure of agencies
The petitioners had sought probe by the CBI due to continuous failure of the State’s agencies in conducting a fair probe in the three separate FIRs registered for the offences of murder, forgery and cheating against Srinivas and others. Also, the petitioners had alleged that SIT had failed to collect any electronic evidences, including call details, and the investigation was a camouflage to protect Srinivas and his accomplices.
It was alleged after the death of Adikeshavulu in 2013, Srinivas and his close associates started pressurising and threatening Raghunath for transfer of some of the immovable properties owned by him alleging that the source of income of the properties in his [Raghunath’s] name is of their father.
It was alleged that Raghunath was murdered by Srinivas and his associates as he resisted to give up the properties, and the death, which occurred at a guest house owned by Srinivas, was made to look like a suicide. Also, it was alleged that post-mortem of Raghunath’s body was done at Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Bengaluru, which owned by late Adikeshavulu’s family members in connivance of police.
The petitioner had alleged that Raghunath had left home to meet Srinivas and D.A. Kalpaja, daughter of Adikeshavulu, before he was found dead.
As the city police refused to register Ms. Manjula’s complaint against Srinivas and others, she filed a case before a magistrate court, which in 2020 ordered registration of a FIR.
As the HAL police, who had registered FIR, did not conduct probe expeditiously, she moved the High Court, which in April 2021 directed the government to set up an SIT headed by an officer now below the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police. Following this, the government set up SIT headed by IPS officer S.D. Sharanappa.
‘B’ report by SIT
The SIT filed a ‘B’ report before the magistrate, who in March, 2022, rejected it by stating that “SIT has not investigated the case with all fairness”.
The magistrate had directed further probe by station house officer of HAL Police Station. However, the High Court said that magistrate had no power to order further probe by a different investigation officer.