Gauri Lankesh murder case: Karnataka HC seeks report on ‘custodial torture’ of 4 accused

The Karnataka High Court has directed two magistrate courts here to submit a report on allegations of custodial torture of four accused in the Gauri Lankesh murder case and non-compliance of judicial procedures. The allegations are serious in nature and the Registry of the High Court has been directed to communicate the order to the magistrates of the first and third additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM) courts, Justice K N Phaneendra said when the matter came up for hearing yesterday. They should submit a report on the allegations within 10 days from the date of receipt of this order, he said. In an affidavit, advocate N P Amrutesh alleged that Amol Kale, one of the accused in the case, was beaten, slapped and punched on his cheek by police officers while in custody. The magistrates also failed to comply with procedures mandated by the Supreme Court regarding persons in police custody, he claimed. The advocate is representing Kale, Sujith Kumar, Amit Ramachandra Degvekar and Manohar Edave, arrested in connection with the killing of the veteran journalist. The counsel for the accused also alleged that the magistrate did not order a medical examination even after being informed on June 14 about the torture meted out to one of the accused by the police. Instead, the magistrate only recorded injury marks on his body, he said. The counsel further said similar complaints regarding custodial torture of the other accused were also made on May 31 before the magistrate of the third ACMM, which was neglected. Hence, he prayed for a court direction to authorities concerned to conduct a medical examination of the accused and a probe into their illegal detention and torture by the police. He also sought Rs 25 lakh as compensation for each of the accused, besides a direction to the magistrate to record their statements in in-camera proceedings. On June 12, the high court had issued notices to the Karnataka government, state police chief and police officials concerned in the matters. It had also directed the police to ensure that the accused were not ill-treated. Gauri Lankesh, a Left-leaning journalist and a strong Hindutva critic, was shot-dead from a close range by motorcycle-borne assailants in front of her house on September 5 last year.


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