Karnataka High Court’s Guidelines For Probing Criminal Cases

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The Karnataka High Court in an interim order has issued several guidelines for the speedy disposal of criminal cases against politicians and influential persons, including a deadline of 90 days for serious offences.

Among the 17 guidelines issued by the court, the directions include the implementation of the Witness Protection Scheme to safeguard the lives and interests of complainants.

Justice S Sunil Dutt Yadav fixed a deadline of 60 days for probing petty offences and 90 days for serious and heinous offences. However, the deadlines can be extended by the magistrates and judges if the investigating agency seeks extension with valid reasons.

The interim order issued on May 17 came on a petition by Sujit Mulgund, who alleged corruption charges against Abhay Kumar Patil, a two-time MLA from Belgaum South constituency. The complaint sought investigation into disproportionate assets of Patil.

The complainant alleged that he is subject to constant threats to his life and relentless harassment since the time he filed the complaint. Patil and his henchmen are allegedly harassing Mulgund and forcing him to withdraw the complaint.

Mulgund had filed a private complaint of corruption charges against the politician.

Citing inordinate delay in the case, the court noted that the complaint was originally filed in 2012 but till date, no charge sheet has been filed by the investigating police. The case is now being investigated by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), Belagavi.

Among the other guidelines in the order, the HC has directed that investigating police should inform the magistrate of any interference in investigation by the accused and bottlenecks faced in the probe.

Establishment of specialised investigating wings and personnel with necessary training is another direction. The state should appoint capable public prosecutors in special courts who are capable of handling such cases.

A list of vulnerable witnesses deposition complexes available in Karnataka should be placed on record, it said.

The state should approve the establishment of a second special court at the earliest, the order said.

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