Gauri Lankesh murder trial begins in Karnataka

Updated on May 28, 2022 02:21 AM IST

Justice CM Joshi, who is presiding over the special Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (KCOCA) court that is hearing the case, set the guidelines for the trial on Friday.

Journalist and activisit Gauri Lankesh was murdered on September 6, 2017. (Photo by Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times)
Journalist and activisit Gauri Lankesh was murdered on September 6, 2017. (Photo by Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times)
By, Bengaluru

The trial in the murder case of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh started on Friday in a special court here, nearly five years after she was gunned down outside her residence.

Justice CM Joshi, who is presiding over the special Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act (KCOCA) court that is hearing the case, set the guidelines for the trial on Friday.

“The trial will be held continuously for weeks.For now, the trial will be held every second week of the month for five days. The hearing of arguments in the case will be held from July 4 to July 8,” justice Joshi said.

Lankesh was shot dead on the night of September 5, 2017, in front of her Rajarajeshwari Nagar home in Bengaluru. As many as 17 people have been named as accused in the case.

During the hearing, defence lawyers of the accused moved a petition seeking that the trial be conducted only in the physical presence of their clients. The lawyers said they needed to consult their clients during hearings.

To this, the judge said that the lawyers had the right to seek the presence of some of the accused but they cannot insist on physical presence.

However, the court ordered for all accused lodged in Bengaluru’s Parappana Agrahara Central Prison and Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail to be made part of the trial through video conference and said the advocates will be allowed to consult their clients over the phone or meet them physically

“The virtual presence has been accepted as a mode of physical consultancy. The defence may contact their clients via telephonic conversations. The Arthur jail authorities have been instructed to arrange for the telephonic communication,” said the judge.

Six accused – Ganesh Miskin (A3), Amit Baddi (A4), Sudhava Gondalaker (A9), Sharad Kalaskar (10), Vasudev Suryanvamshi (A12), and Rishikesh Deodikar (A18) – who are lodged in Arthur Road Jail, Mumbai, remained absent during the trial, while the remaining accused lodged in the Parappana prison in Bengaluru, including the shooter Parashuram Waghmore and the alleged mastermind of the murder plot Amol Kale, were part of the proceedings via videoconference.

Gauri Lankesh’s sister Kavita, the complainant in the murder case, was also listed to record her statement on Friday, however, the lawyers for the accused objected as all accused were not present in the court. To this, the judge said: CW1 (Kavita) is informed that her evidence will be recorded once the presence of all accused is ensured before the court.”

A special investigation team (SIT) formed by the Karnataka police to probe the murder case has said in the chargesheet that an unnamed organisation that allegedly recruited right-wing activists from various Hindutva organisations was behind the murder. The investigation also unearthed a link between the murders of rationalists MM Kalburgi in Dharwad and Govind Pansare and Narendra Dhabolkar in Maharashtra.

According to SIT officials, the trial of the Lankesh case will have an impact on the investigations into the other three murder cases, which have not progressed.

In the initial days of the investigation, the SIT found a connection between the murders of Lankesh and Kalburgi, who was killed on August 30, 2015. The four bullets and cartridges recovered from Lankesh’s house matched the slugs and cartridges in Kalburgi’s murder. Forensic labs found that the bullets were fired from the same gun.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Arun Dev is an Assistant Editor with the Karnataka bureau of Hindustan Times. A journalist for over 10 years, he has written extensively on crime and politics.

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