The Karnataka High Court has granted bail to Mohan Nayak, the accused in the murder case of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead in 2017 . Nayak is the first person to receive bail in connection to this case.
No witnesses directly linked Nayak to murder of Lankesh: HC
Justice S Viashwajith Shetty noted in the order that none of the 23 witnesses linking Nayak to the case mentioned his involvement in the alleged conspiracy to murder Lankesh. Most witnesses only spoke about Nayak renting a house at Kumbalagodu in the outskirts of Bengaluru.
The prosecution claimed he provided shelter to the actual assailants. The court also questioned the confession statements recorded in the case, stating they were done before the sanction for invoking the provisions of the Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (COCA). It opined that Section 19 of COCA might not be applicable to the confessions. Even if COCA charges are proven, the court noted that the offenses are not exclusively punishable by death or life imprisonment, with the minimum punishment being five years of imprisonment.
Delay in trial not Nayak's fault: HC
Given Nayak's more than five years in custody and the anticipated delay in the trial, the court granted bail, emphasising that the delay was not the accused's fault. The High Court had previously denied regular bail to Nayak twice.
With a total of 527 chargesheet witnesses in the case, only 90 have been examined to date. Advocate Amar Correa represented the accused, while Special Public Prosecutor Ashok A Naik represented the prosecution.
Gauri Lankesh murder case
The murder of Gauri Lankesh, a prominent Indian journalist and activist, shook the nation in 2017. Gauri Lankesh, known for her fearless journalism and outspoken views on social and political issues, was assassinated outside her residence in Bangalore. The assailants, who arrived on a motorcycle, fired multiple shots at close range, resulting in her tragic death. The murder sparked widespread condemnation and raised concerns about the safety of journalists and free speech in the country. Gauri Lankesh was known for her criticism of right-wing ideologies, and her untimely demise underscored the dangers faced by journalists who express dissenting opinions. The investigation into her murder has been ongoing, and arrests have been made in connection with the case. The quest for justice and the implications for press freedom continue to be significant aspects of the aftermath of Gauri Lankesh's tragic killing.