10 June 2024


Judgments

Supreme Court

Kavitha Lankesh Vs. State of Karnataka and Ors.

MANU/SC/0945/2021

21.10.2021

Criminal

Specific role of the accused is not required in granting prior approval under Section 24(1)(a) of the Act, 2000, if material collected by the Investigating Agency reveals close nexus with the accused

Present appeals emanate from the judgment passed by the High Court whereby the High Court partly allowed the writ petition and quashed the order issued by the Commissioner of Police, according prior approval to invoke offences Under Section 3 of the Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act, 2000 against Mohan Nayak N. (private Respondent) being crime registered with Police Station as FIR and to enquire into the same.

The High Court concluded that, the writ Petitioner-Mohan Nayak N. cannot be proceeded further and thus, partly allowed the writ petition by not only quashing the order of the Commissioner of Police, according approval for invoking Section 3 of the 2000 Act, but also the chargesheet filed against the writ Petitioner-Mohan Nayak N. for offences punishable Under Section 3(1)(i), 3(2), 3(3) and 3(4) of the 2000 Act. Being aggrieved, the complainant-Kavitha Lankesh as well as the State of Karnataka have filed appeals before present Court questioning the correctness of the view taken by the High Court.

The Investigating Agency was unable to collect material during investigation against the writ Petitioner-Mohan Nayak N. for offence Under Section 3(1) of the 2000 Act, does not mean that the information regarding commission of a crime by him within the meaning of Section 3(2), 3(3) or 3(4) of the 2000 Act cannot be recorded and investigated against him as being a member of the organized crime syndicate and/or having played role of an abettor, being party to the conspiracy to commit organized crime or of being a facilitator, as the case may be.

As regards offences punishable under Section 3(2), 3(3), 3(4) or 3(5), it can proceed against any person sans such previous offence registered against him, if there is material to indicate that he happens to be a member of the organized crime syndicate who had committed the offences in question and it can be established that, there is material about his nexus with the Accused who is a member of the organized crime syndicate.

At the stage of granting prior approval under Section 24(1)(a) of the 2000 Act, therefore, the competent authority is not required to wade through the material placed by the Investigating Agency before him along with the proposal for grant of prior approval to ascertain the specific role of each Accused. The competent authority has to focus essentially on the factum whether the information/material reveals the commission of a crime which is an organized crime committed by the organized crime syndicate. In that, the prior approval is qua offence and not the offender as such. As long as the incidents referred to in earlier crimes are committed by a group of persons and one common individual was involved in all the incidents, the offence under the 2000 Act can be invoked. This Court in Prasad Shrikant Purohit expounded that, at the stage of taking cognizance, the competent Court takes cognizance of the offence and not the offender. This analogy applies even at the stage of grant of prior approval for invocation of provisions of the 2000 Act.

The prior sanction under Section 24(2), however, may require enquiry into the specific role of the offender in the commission of organized crime, namely, he himself singly or jointly or as a member of the organized crime syndicate indulged in commission of the stated offences so as to attract the punishment provided Under Section 3(1) of the 2000 Act. However, if the role of the offender is merely that of a facilitator or of an abettor as referred to in Section 3(2), 3(3), 3(4) or 3(5), the requirement of named person being involved in more than two chargesheets registered against him in the past is not relevant. Regardless of that, he can be proceeded under the 2000 Act, if the material collected by the Investigating Agency reveals that he had nexus with the Accused who is a member of the organized crime syndicate or such nexus is related to the offence in the nature of organized crime. Thus, he need not be a person who had direct role in the commission of an organized crime.

The High Court has completely glossed over the crucial fact that, the writ petition was filed only after the sanction was accorded by the competent authority under Section 24(2) of Act. Further, the High Court has clearly exceeded its jurisdiction in quashing the chargesheet filed against the writ Petitioner for offences punishable under Section 3(2), 3(3) and 3(4) of the 2000 Act at this stage [of prior approval under Section 24(1)(a)] of Act. The impugned judgment and order of the High Court is set aside. Appeal allowed.

Tags : Chargesheet Quashing of Legality

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