The Karnataka High Court on Monday kept up the state government’s decision to drop cases against 61 BJP legislators and ministers in the state.
The HC was attending a plea filed by the People Union of Civil Liberties, Karnataka, questioning the Yediyurappa government’s order dated August 31 which consented permission for the withdrawal of prosecution cases under the section 321 of Code of Criminal Procedure.
The HC division bench has also proposed the state government to file its complaints by January 22, 2021, and has stationed the next hearing for January 29. The court-mandated that “no further steps be taken on the basis of order dated August 31, 2020.”
The cases were dropped by the Karnataka government initially this year under Section 321 of Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which gives the leverage of ‘Withdrawal from prosecution’ to the state government.
During a previous hearing of the case, the High Court had examined that a public prosecutor “cannot act as a post box or submit to the diktats of the government when the executive directs withdrawal of criminal cases against legislators”, Bar and Bench reported. It had further announced that trial courts are not confined by such decisions of the government and it can pertain its own mind and dismiss prayers for departure of prosecution.
On August 31, 2020, the Yediyurappa government, on the recommendation of Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who bossed a sub-committee, revoked cases against several sitting ministers, comprising the Law, Tourism and Agriculture ministers. Lawsuits against other elected deputies like Mysuru MP Pratap Simha, Mandya independent MP Sumalatha Ambarish, BJP MLA fromYelburga Hallapa Achar, BJP MLA from Honnalli and CM’s political secretary MP Renukacharya too had been declined.
In November 2020, the HC also published a notice to the state government and the police department to acknowledge to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a city-based advocate which claimed that between 8 August 2014 to 5 May 2020, over 570 cases have been revoked by the consecutive governments.
The HC has also interrogated the Prosecution Department under the state government to acknowledge to the notice. The HC asked the state to ‘to rationalize whether it has the power to issue directions to the Director of Prosecution for withdrawing any criminal cases under Section 321 of the Code Criminal Procedure, 1973.’
While the move to drop cases had captivated criticism from not just the Opposition but even the civil society, the state government had protected its position and said that it was a ‘routine’ issue and the cases had been filed against the elected representatives for adopting ‘public matters’.