Karnataka High Court dismisses PIL seeking reinvestigation into Soujanya murder case

Updated - September 08, 2023 08:37 pm IST

Published - September 08, 2023 08:36 pm IST - Bengaluru

The High Court of Karnataka on Friday refused to entertain a PIL petition seeking a fresh or reinvestigation into the 2012 case of rape and murder of 17-year-old Soujanya, who was a student of SDM College, Ujire near Dharmasthala in Dakshina Kannada district.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Prasanna B. Varale and Justice Krishna S. Dixit dismissed the petition filed by Girish Bharadwaj of Bengaluru, Naveen Kumar G. of Belthangady, and Vinayaka Friends Charitable Trust, Puttur.

Stating that it was refraining from imposing cost on the petitioners, the Bench said it would record its reasons for dismissal of the petition in its written order to be released later.

Earlier, during the hearing of the arguments of the petitioners’ advocate, the Bench orally made it clear that there is no scope in law to entertain a PIL for reinvestigation after the completion of the trial and pronouncement of the verdict in the criminal case by the trial court.

The Bench also pointed out to the petitioners’ advocate orally that the law provides various right, including the right to appeal against the order of acquittal of the accused, to the parents of the victim as well as the investigating agency.

When the advocate pointed out that there is huge public outcry demanding reinvestigation, the Bench orally made it clear that it is bound within the four corners of the law and cannot act on the basis of public perception.

Also, the Bench noted from records produced in the petition that the High Court in 2021 had rejected the petition filed in 2018 by victim girl’s father for reinvestigation of the case by the Central Bureau of Investigation when the trial of the case was under way. The CBI, to which the investigation was handed over in 2014, had filed chargesheet in 2015 against one Santhosh Rao.

It was contended in the petition that the actual culprits were roaming free, and Santosh Rao, against whom the CBI had filed chargesheet, was acquitted by the special court in its June 2023 verdict.

The filling of an appeal by the victim’s parents or the prosecution may not serve justice to the victim in view of the observations made by the special court on tainted investigation at the initial stage after the registration of the crime, the petitioners had claimed in the petition.

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