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Karnataka HC sets deadlines for probing criminal cases thanks to Sujit Mulgunds petition

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Justice S Sunil Dutt Yadav of the Karnataka High Court has issued guidelines for speedy investigation, fixing 60 days for petty offences and 90 days for serious and heinous offences, which could be extended by Special Judge/ Magistrate upon request made by the investigating officers with valid reasons.

Sujit Mulgund from Belagavi had filed a Writ Petition in the High court pleading the delay in investigations.

The petitioner had filed a Private Complaint in 2012 under Section 200 of Cr.P.C. with the prayer to secure the presence of accused and deal with him in accordance with law. The said complaint was filed on the premise that Sri Abhaykumar B. Patil, who was a representative of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly (i) from the year 2004 to 2008 representing Bagewadi Assembly Constituency, Belagavi District and (ii) from the year 2008 to 2012 representing Belagavi Dakshin Constituency, had assets disproportionate to known sources of income, had indulged in corrupt activities and amassed wealth by corrupt and illegal means. It is made out that there were discrepancies in the affidavits filed along with the nomination by Sri Abhaykumar B. Patil and alleging that he was in possession of properties disproportionate to his known sources of income. The trial Court directed the Superintendent of Police, Lokayukta to register a case and investigate the matter.

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The Lokayukta Police Station, Belagavi registered a case for the offences punishable under Sections 13(1)(e) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (‘P.C. Act’ for brevity).

Investigation and the final report has not been filed, that in the meanwhile, he was being threatened by the accused to withdraw the case and attempts were made by use of the offices of Sri Abhaykumar B. Patil to implicate the petitioner in false cases. It is further submitted that the petitioner was being threatened by the henchmen of the accused to withdraw the case and he was “under constant pressure for well being of my family.” The said complaint has been taken note of in the order of this Court dated 20.12.2019.

Taking serious note of the said complaint/representation made by the petitioner to the Chief Justice, this Court by order dated 06.09.2021 appointed Amicus Curiae to assist the Court.

The Amicus has submitted that the delay in filing the final report had contributed to the apprehension of the petitioner and accordingly directions need to be passed for speedy investigation which are to be made applicable for cases in general.

The delay in investigation stands out in the present case. Though the order of Special Judge was passed on 21.09.2017, till date, the Investigating Authority has not placed the final report before this Court. The Court placed on record its appreciation for the assistance of Amicus Curiae, Senior Advocate Sandesh Chouta.

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