Deputy Superintendent of Police Ganapathy of the Karnataka Police was found dead at Madikeri on July 6th, 2016. This seemingly unnatural death rocked Karnataka. Even more dramatically, this tragedy occurred mere hours after the police officer gave an interview to a Kannada channel in which he claimed IPS officers – Additional Director General of Police (intelligence) A.M. Prasad, Lokayukta Inspector General of Police Pronab Mohanty and Bengaluru Development Minister and former Home Minister K.J. George – were harassing him.
In this interview, the late DYSP Ganapathy also cast aspersions on Kempaiah, a retired Karnataka IPS officer who is an advisor to the Government. After Ganapathy’s death, the BJP and JD(S) were vociferous in claiming that Kempaiah was instrumental in a ”cover-up” of the case. Kempaiah had earlier been probed for allegations that he had faked his caste certificate.
Since this interview happened so close to the death of the officer, it is legally admissible as a dying declaration. A case was opened and investigated by the Karnataka State CID. By September 2016, the State CID had filed a report which claimed ‘no clear evidence’ against the 3 named in this case.
The alacrity with which the State CID’s report was filed would lead an observer to question if due diligence had been performed and if the State CID had considered all angles and pieces of evidence before filing its report.
In the meantime, Ganapathy’s father and brother moved Karnataka High Court asking for the case to be transferred to the CBI for further investigation.
On September 21, 2016, the Karnataka HC rejected the application for a CBI probe, since it was felt in the opinion of the Hon’ble Justice Abdul Nazeer that the material submitted with the application did not fulfil the conditions for a transfer to the CBI. A subsequent appeal was also rejected, by a bench of Karnataka HC comprised of Chief Justice of Karnataka HC, the Hon’ble Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and the Hon’ble Justice Budihal R.B.
Subsequent to this judgement, the family members approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court for transferring the case to CBI. While the FIR filed by the Karnataka Police named the deceased’s son, Master Nehal, as the complainant, the petitions and appeals were filed by the deceased officer’s brother, Mr Machaiah and father, Mr Kushalappa.
The petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court of India. In July 2017, the SC issued a notice to K J George seeking his response. Senior lawyers, including Kapil Sibal, former Union Minister of IT, Union HRD Minister and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a Congress MP, appeared on behalf of Minister K J George.
On September 5, 2017, the Supreme Court of India, on a bench comprised of Hon’ble Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Hon’ble Justice U.U. Lalit passed an order directing that the case be transferred to the CBI, Chennai Zone.
The CBI was directed by the Hon’ble SC to complete the investigation within 3 months. On October 26th, 2017, the CBI prepared an FIR naming K J George as Accused No 1, and the two IPS officers as co-accused in a case of abetment of suicide.
On November 15, 2017, the CBI authorities, in a crime scene reconstruction, recovered a second bullet from the crime scene. It may be noted that 2 bullets were missing from the deceased’s service revolver and only one was retrieved by Karnataka CB-CID.
News reports indicate that forensic lab reports evidence in hard disk drives and pen drives having been destroyed.
In December 2017, the CBI had approached SC asking for more time to complete the investigation. After issuing a notice to the kin of the deceased asking their opinion, the SC gave 6 more months to the CBI to complete the investigation on January 4, 2018.
Considering the new information that was emerging and the new directions explored, the Hon’ble SC decision to hand over the case to CBI was justified.
In February 2018, the Investigating Officer was transferred out of CBI, Chennai to Kolkata Zone. Following this, immediately, in March 2018, the Joint Director, CBI, Chennai Zone was transferred to Delhi.
Given the transfer of the Investigating Officer and the primary Supervising Officer, the case is to be handed over to new officers who will take over. This could prove to be a setback in the pace of the investigation. The completion of the investigation within the timeframe stipulated by the Supreme Court is thus doubtful.
There are no indications or press reports to show the first accused, K J George, has appeared for the examination.
Two questions that arise are –
- Why are senior members of the Congress opposed to transferring such a sensitive case to the CBI?
- Has Accused No 1 K J George been subject to examination by the CBI?