Whether SIT could have continued probe in CD scandal in absence of its head, asks HC

Former minister and BJP MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, who resigned in connection with the sex-for-job CD scandal, addressing mediapersons outside his residence in Bengaluru on March 27, 2021.   | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

The High Court of Karnataka on July 27 said it would examine the legality of continuation of investigation by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) into cases registered in connection with the CD scandal allegedly involving former Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi in the absence of the head of the SIT.

Additional Commissioner of Police Soumendu Mukherjee (Bengaluru-West), who was appointed as the head of the SIT, has been on leave since May 1, 2021. Under the circumstances, the court said it is necessary to examine whether a probe in his absence has sanctity in law.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice N.S. Sanjay Gowda passed the order while hearing PIL petitions on the CD scandal and petitions filed by the victim.

The bench directed both the Karnataka government and the SIT to respond to the query whether SIT could continue the investigation in the absence of its head when nothing has been placed on record to show that the Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru city, had appointed a new head for the SIT. The SIT was set up on March 11, 2021 under the leadership of Mr. Mukherjee.

The court was earlier informed that Mr. Mukherjee is on medical leave since May 1.

Probe yet to be completed

As the SIT made it clear to the court that its investigation in the FIR, registered based on the victim’s complaint, is yet to be completed, the bench directed the SIT not to file the final report of the investigation in the jurisdictional court without prior permission of the High Court.

Also, the bench said that it would also consider the issue of legality of constitution of SIT to probe the CD scandal based on contentions raised by the petitioners and the victim that SIT was set up on Mr. Jarkiholi’s request and that the Home Minister had no power to instruct the Commissioner of Police to set up an SIT.

Senior Advocate C.V. Nagesh, appearing for Mr. Jarkiholii pointed out to the bench that Mr. Jarkiholi had submitted a petition to the Home Minister on March 10, 2021 to conduct an inquiry as ‘false’ allegations were made against him. None of the FIRs, registered based on either the complaint filed by the victim or by the former minister, existed when the SIT was constituted.

When Senior Advocate Indira Jaisingh, representing the victim, pointed out that a news report was published in the internet edition of an English daily stating that ‘SIT finds no evidence to prosecute Ramesh Jarkiholi’, the bench directed her to submit details of the news report.

Further hearing adjourned till August 12.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 4:54:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/whether-sit-could-have-continued-probe-in-cd-scandal-in-absence-of-its-head-asks-hc/article35555937.ece

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