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Supreme Court refuses to quash charges against Congress leader Vinay Kulkarni in BJP worker Yogesh Gowda murder case: All you need to know

A bench of Justices PV Sanjay Kumar and Augustine Masih rejected the MLA's Special Leave Petition against the Karnataka High Court Order, which sustained the Special Court's charges against Kulkarni and twenty other accused persons.

On Monday (10th June), the Supreme Court upheld a Karnataka trial court’s order to prosecute Congress MLA Vinay Kulkarni for the murder of former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker Yogesh Gowda. Yogesh was an elected member of Dharwad Zilla Panchayat. He was killed at his gym in June 2016.

Notably, Congress MLA Vinay Rajshekarappa Kulkarni was accused of a 2016 murder conspiracy against the BJP worker. A bench of Justices PV Sanjay Kumar and Augustine Masih rejected the MLA’s Special Leave Petition against the Karnataka High Court Order, which sustained the Special Court’s charges against Kulkarni and twenty other accused persons.

The Supreme Court held that Vinay Kulkarni had ‘bought over’ the deceased victim’s widow. Given that the Court was unlikely to consider the plea, Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave, who represented Kulkarni, moved to withdraw it. This, however, enraged Justice Kumar who said, “This court has become a gambling court.”

Justice Kumar observed that the case was not fit for quashing. “This is not a case for quashing, 57 phone calls between you and A1 within the ambit of 5 months,” the Judge said.

The petitioner, represented by Senior Advocate Sidharth Dave, contended that the MLA was only mentioned in the CBI’s second charge sheet, and that the deceased’s widow’s statement did not reveal the petitioner’s name.

“The deposition of the wife is not against me, all that material has to be reconsidered…it is further investigation (the CBI’s second chargesheet) it is not an investigation. If it is not re-investigated, the earlier material cannot be wiped out…..He (trial judge) cannot go only on the basis of the supplementary chargesheet filed by the CBI,” Kulkarni’s counsel said.

Justice Sanjay Kumar intervened to verbally observe, “You also write a letter to the Chief Secretary seeking transfer of the public prosecutor because she was vigorously conducting the trial, uninfluenced by you Minister…”

Expressing his disagreement, Kulkarni’s counsel said, “Even when I was the Minister, the trial took place, but not a whisper by the wife of the deceased.”

While dismissing the SLP, Justice Kumar said, “You obviously bought over the widow…sorry SLP dismissed.”

As Kulkarni’s counsel requested to withdraw the plea, the bench strongly condemned the trend of cases being filed and withdrawn over unfavourable outcomes.

“This has to stop. This trying your luck at the Supreme Court then back out, this court has become a gambling court or what?” the court said.

Yogesh Gowda murder case

Yogesh Gowda, a BJP Zila Panchayat member from the Hebballi constituency, was murdered by an armed gang at his gym in Saptapur, Dharwad, on the 15th of June 2016. Following his murder, Dharwad Police arrested six people and charged them with murder. Gurunath Gowda, Yogesh Gowda’s brother, wanted a CBI probe into the matter, which was finally fulfilled after the BJP-led government took power in the state. The CBI took up the investigation on the 24th of September 2019, arrested eight other accused, and submitted a charge sheet on the 20th of May 2020. Vinay Kulkarni was arrested on November 5, 2020, and has been in judicial custody in Hindalga Jail, Belagavi, after his bail plea was denied twice, first by the lower court and then in April this year by the High Court.

The CBI told the court in November 2020 that Congress leader Vinay Kulkarni had travelled to Delhi before and after Yogesh Gowda’s murder to use it as an alibi. The CBI investigation into the killing revealed that Kulkarni travelled to Delhi on the 12th of June, 2016, around 11.30 a.m. and returned the following day at 10.40 a.m.

The CBI alleged that Kulkarni went to Delhi on the 16th of June evening, one day after the murder, and returned on the 18th of June 2016. “The tickets were booked on the same day of the journey and the purpose of the journey was to create an alibi,” according to the CBI.

Notably, the CBI said that Gowda’s murder was caused due to political rivalry because Congress’s Vinay Kulkarni, had allegedly asked him not to run in the Zila Panchayat elections,  however, Yogesh refused to do so.

Notably, Yogesh Gowda’s wife, Mallamma, a BJP candidate for the Hebballi zila panchayat by-election, lost by six votes and later joined the Congress party. After switching parties, she stopped blaming the Congress leaders for conspiring to kill her husband.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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