The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed the Karnataka High Court order quashing the stringent charges under the Control of Organized Crime Act (KCOCA) against an accused in the 2017 murder of journalist-turned-activist Gauri Lankesh. A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar allowed the appeal of Gauri Lankesh’s sister Kavita Lankesh and restored the change under KCOCA against accused Mohan Nayak. Kavita Lankesh, a filmmaker, had appealed in the apex court against the state high court’s decision in April to quash the charges under organized crime against Nayak. In June, the apex court had said that the accused should not be granted bail till Lankesh’s plea is decided. In April 2021, the High Court quashed the Bengaluru Police Commissioner’s report, along with the supplementary charge sheet in the case and subsequently dropped the KCOCA charges against Nayak. Lankesh has said that the SIT investigation has revealed that the accused was part of a syndicate which was behind several cases of organized crime. The petition mentions several murders including those of activists Narendra Davbolkar and Govind Pansare. Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru in 2017. KCOCA is a law enacted by the state since 2000 to combat organized crime and terrorism. The Act was based on the Control of the Maharashtra Organized Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA). According to the police, if Kekoka’s charges against Nayak are dropped, it could set a precedent for dropping charges against other accused in the case. The accused Nayak is said to be a close associate of Amol Kale and Rajesh Bangera, both of whom are prime accused in the case. Kavita’s petition states that Nayak had actively provided shelter to the main accused and was also involved in “sustained unlawful activity” as defined by the KCOCA.

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