The Supreme Court has declined to quash the criminal charges against Karnataka Congress MLA Vinay Rajashekarappa Kulkarni in connection with the murder of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker in 2016.

The Vacation Bench of Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice Augustine George Masih dismissed the Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by the Karnataka MLA challenging the Karnataka High Court's decision, which upheld the charges levelled by the Special Court against him and 20 other individuals.

"Special Leave Petition is dismissed. Pending applications, if any, shall also stand dismissed," the Bench said.

Senior Advocate Siddharth Dave appeared for the MLA while Advocate Zoheb Hussain and others appeared for the Respondents.

The case stems from the tragic murder of Yogesh Gowda, a zilla panchayat member of the BJP representing the Hebballi constituency. Gowda was brutally attacked by an armed group at his gym in Saptapur, Dharwad, on June 15, 2016. Following his untimely demise, the Dharwad Police swiftly arrested six suspects and formally charged them with murder. Advocated by BJP leaders, Gurunath Goudar, the brother of the deceased, urged for a CBI investigation into the matter.

Subsequently, on September 24, 2019, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) assumed control of the case and apprehended an additional eight suspects. On May 20, 2020, the CBI filed a comprehensive chargesheet detailing the alleged involvement of these individuals. Vinay Kulkarni, taken into custody on November 5, 2020, has since remained in judicial confinement at the Hindalga Jail in Belagavi after his bail pleas were denied both by the lower court and subsequently by the High Court.

In February 2021, the CBI supplemented its case by submitting an additional charge sheet to the CBI Special Court, which listed 21 accused, including the petitioner, MLA Kulkarni. On December 6, 2023, the Special Court formally framed charges against all the accused, including Kulkarni, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Arms Act, 1959.

Despite attempts to challenge the framing of charges, including a Writ Petition filed under Article 226 with Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) before the High Court, MLA Kulkarni's legal endeavors were unsuccessful. On April 8, 2024, the High Court dismissed his petition, further affirming the gravity and validity of the charges brought against him by the Special Court.

The High Court had also said, "A perusal of the impugned order whereby charges have been framed inter alia against the petitioner shows that due process was undertaken by the learned Trial Judge while framing the charge. Ideally speaking, the impugned order could have been scripted bit elaborately and in a reasoned way. There is scope for improvement even inheaven, said Oscar Wilde, an Irish Writer (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900)."

Cause Title: Vinay Rajashekarappa Kulkarni v. Central Bureau of Investigation


Petitioner: Senior Advocate Siddharth Dave, Advocates Sharnagouda Patil, Grish G.N.

Respondent: Advocates Zoheb Hussain, Piyush Beriwal, Rajan Kumar Chourasiya, Annam Venkatesh, Mukesh Kumar Maroria

Click here to read/download the Order