Supreme Court grants bail to ex-minister Kulkarni in BJP leader's murder case

Supreme Court grants bail to ex-minister Kulkarni in BJP leader’s murder case
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Supreme Court grants bail to ex-minister Kulkarni in BJP leader’s murder case

Highlights

The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to former minister and Congress leader Vinay Kulkarni who was arrested on November 5, 2020, in connection with murder of Yogesh Gowda, a BJP district panchayat member in 2016.

Bengaluru: The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to former minister and Congress leader Vinay Kulkarni who was arrested on November 5, 2020, in connection with murder of Yogesh Gowda, a BJP district panchayat member in 2016.

Allowing Kulkarni's plea, a bench headed by Justice UU Lalit and Justice Ajaj Rastogi directed the police to produce him before the trial court concerned within three days and ordered that bail be granted to him subject to the conditions imposed by the court. Kulkarni's bail plea, however, was reportedly opposed by the Central Bureau of Investigation that is probing the case.

Yogesh Gowda was killed in June 2016 outside a gym in Dharwad. The case was transferred to the CBI in 2019, after the BJP came to power in Karnataka. Later, CBI filed a charge sheet against the accused in May 2020 and subsequently arrested Vinay Kulkarni in November 2020. Kulkarni, who was a minister in the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government, is also accused of tampering with evidence, bribing a police officer to file a false charge sheet and diverting the investigation. Kulkarni's bail plea was earlier denied twice, by a lower court as well as the Karnataka High Court.

The Supreme Court bench noted that, with his bail being granted now, Kulkarni cannot obstruct the trial, get in touch with witnesses or influence them in any way. The former minister has also been instructed to remain in Bengaluru until the trial passes an order in the case. The bench also directed him to appear before the CBI twice every week, and if he violates any of these conditions, his bail will be revoked.

According to reports, arguing for bail, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, drew Court's attention to the different versions in the challans submitted by the police and CBI wherein the local police probe identified that property dispute was the reason behind the murder but the CBI investigation pointed out that the policitcal rivalry led to the crime. "Dharwad police said that Yogesh Gowda was murdered over a property dispute while the CBI said he was killed due to a political row," the senior lawyer claimed. He then contended that there should be a renewed investigation of the case. However, the same was contested by Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the CBI, who said that the case was of further investigation and not reinvestigation, also the State was empowered to order further investigation under section 173(8) of the CrPC, 1973. "The purpose of further investigation is to do justice. The previous investigation was controlled by Vinay Kulkanri. He even chose the public prosecutor. The conspiracy is hatched for murder of Yogesh. It doesn't end with murder of Yogesh but it further includes the person who are innocent as accused," ASG Raju argued.

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