Karnataka HC rejects petition for fresh probe in Soujanya murder and rape case
The Karnataka High Court has denied a request for a new investigation into the Soujanya murder and rape case in Dakshina Kannada district. The petition, citing public interest, sought a fresh probe by either the CBI or an SIT but was dismissed by the court. The court recommended pursuing legal remedies like filing an appeal against the acquittal order.
The Karnataka High Court has denied a request for a new investigation into the Soujanya murder and rape case in Dakshina Kannada district. The petition sought an order for the government to conduct a fresh probe by either the CBI or a Special Investigation Team (SIT), supervised by the High Court.
The petition was filed by Girish Bhardwaj of Seshadripur, Bengaluru, G. Naveen Kumar of Belthangady, and Vinayak Friends Charitable Trust of Balvadu Puttur, citing public interest. They argued that the public's demand for a reinvestigation arose after the accused were acquitted in the case. Chief Justice PB Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit dismissed the petition, stating that alternative legal remedies were available to address the petitioner's concerns.
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During the hearing, senior advocate Arun Shyam, who represented the petitioner, stated that the incident, involving the murder and rape of a student in 2012, did occur. However, the accused were acquitted due to insufficient evidence. The petitioner argued that lapses occurred during the initial investigation and medical examination immediately after the incident.
The public called for a fresh investigation based on these concerns, leading to the petition requesting CBI, SIT, or an independent agency's involvement.
In response, the bench advised that parties involved, including the government, the original complainant, or the victim's family, could file an appeal against the trial court's acquittal order. The bench noted that investigative lapses may be considered in appeal and the pleas made in this petition can be dealt with the correct process.
Arun Shyam pointed out that the victim's family had not filed an appeal. The court recommended assisting the victim's family in filing an appeal but emphasized that public sentiment and protests should not override legal procedures. The court reiterated that public interest petitions must adhere to the bounds of the law.
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The petitioner's counsel, who refused to withdraw the petition, requested the court to rule on its merits. Subsequently, the bench dismissed the petition, with a detailed order to follow.
What is the case?
In 2012, a student from SDM College in Ujire, Dakshina Kannada district, was tragically murdered and raped. Initially, Belthangady police conducted the investigation, and the case was later handed over to the CID. On November 6, 2013, the government assigned the CBI to investigate the case. The CBI special court acquitted the accused on June 16, 2023, which led to protests by various organizations and political parties, demanding a reinvestigation. Consequently, the petitioners filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the High Court, seeking government direction for a fresh investigation.