Vinayaka Baliga murder case: HC quashes appointment of Ravindranath Kamath as SPP

The High Court of Karnataka has set aside the Government Order of appointing advocate Ravindranath Kamath as the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) for conducting the trial in the criminal case of murder of Mangaluru-based RTI activist Vinayaka Baliga.

Justice M. Nagaprasanna passed the order while allowing a petition filed by M. Naresh Shenoy, who is the prime accused in the case, questioning the legality of the GO dated December 21, 2016, on appointing Mr. Kamath as the SPP.

The court held that the apprehension of petitioner-accused is “well founded” that “he would not be subjected to a fair trial in light of appointment of Mr. Kamath”, who had represented the causes of the victim’s father, Ramachandra Baliga, and sister Anuradha Baliga against the petitioner in various courts, including the High Court, prior to his appointment as the SPP.

Reiterating the court’s earlier finding in cases related to appointment of SPPs that the “fair trial does not necessarily mean that it must be fair only to the victim but it should be fair to the accused also”, the court termed as “erroneous and unwarranted” that appointment of Mr. Kamath as the SPP as he had espoused the causes of victim’s father and sister, who is also complainant in her brother’s murder case of 2016.

“An upright public prosecutor has no friends and foes in court. He has no prejudices, preconceived notions, bias, hostility or his own axe to grind. He represents public interest. He has no client or constituency apart from the State. He is above the personal loyalty... Public interest also demands that the trial should be conducted in a fair manner, heedful of the rights granted to the accused under the laws of the country... It is no part his obligation to secure conviction of an accused in any event or at all costs...” Mr. Justice Nagaprasanna quoted from a 2005 judgment of the High Court in the case of appointment of SPP based on a request made by victim’s wife in a politically sensitive murder case of Kolar.

While reserving the liberty to the complainant, Ms. Anuradha Baliga, to submit representation to the Government for appointing a new SPP for exclusive conduct of the trial, the court also said that the Government was free to appoint new SPP bearing in mind the observations made by the court.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 11:32:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/vinayaka-baliga-murder-case-hc-quashes-appointment-of-ravindranath-kamath-as-spp/article37101035.ece

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