At least 21 cases of communal violence and violence in the course of cow protection were dropped by Karnataka courts between October and December 2020. The beneficiaries included BJP MP from Mysuru Prathap Simha, 206 members of Hindu groups, and 106 Muslims, The Indian Express reported.
The cases were dropped ahead of a December 21, 2020 order of Karnataka High Court, ordering the state government not to stop the prosecution of the criminal cases which was based on a petition filed by human rights body People's Union for Civil Liberties.
"No further steps shall be taken on the basis of the order dated 31st August 2020", the High Court's order dated December 21, 2020, read.
The state government had approached trial courts soon after the August 31, 2020 order was issued, demanding the withdrawal of the cases, following which, the 21 cases were dropped between October 10 and December 10, 2020.
The cases were dismissed on requests made by former Law Minister J C Madhuswamy, BJP MLA from Bhatkal Sunil Naik, and Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chavan.
The decision received objections from the state police, prosecution, and legal departments in every case.
What Were The Cases?
Madhuswamy had sought the dropping of 13 cases involving communal incidents that broke out in Hunsur region of Mysore district between 2015 and 2018. Among them was an incident from December 2017, in which Mysuru MP Simha allegedly rammed his Jeep into a police barricade set up to regulate a Hanuman Jayanti procession in Hunsur town.
The MP was accused of disobeying a public order, rash driving, preventing a public servant from doing his duty, and voluntarily hurting a public servant.
A Hunsur court dropped the cases on October 10, saying "the state government has withdrawn the case against the accused."
In total, cases against 142 Hindu youths and 40 Muslim youths in Hunsur region were dropped. Five cases involving communal violence that occurred in Honnavar region of Uttara Kannada district were dropped on the request of the BJP MLA from Bhatkal, Sunil Naik.
The communal violence in Honnavar in December 2017 had led to the BJP taking up the cause of 19-year-old Paresh Mesta, who died under mysterious circumstances following the violence.
Over 100 people accused in five cases were acquitted by courts in Uttara Kannada district based on the state government's August 31 order. Some of these cases were related to violence that broke out at a peace meeting in Honnavar town.
Citing the August 31 order, the Honnavar cases were dropped on October 13.
Among other cases, two communally linked cases dropped by the state government are from Bidar town, based on the request of Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chavan.
A person accused of attacking people transporting cows was acquitted based on the August 31 order, but six others accused in a separate case of targeting cattle transporters were not released. Chavan said that the state government would withdraw all cases registered against "gau rakshaks" for blocking cattle transportation.
In another case from Bidar, eight young Hindu men accused of damaging public property after a communal clash in 2018 over the alleged rape and murder of a girl, was dropped on December 10, based the state government's August 31 order.
The People's Union for Civil Liberties has moved the Karnataka High Court opposing the reason behind dropping cases.
The Karnataka High Court, on December 1, said out that "the public prosecutor cannot act like a post box or act on the dictates of the state government and he has to act objectively as he is also an officer of the court. "No court is bound by such a decision taken to withdraw from the prosecution," it said.