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While hearing petitions pertaining to the Mangaluru firing that occurred during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA), the Karnataka High Court today directed Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi to take instructions on the action taken by the State.
The High Court further directed deputy commissioners and district magistrates to call upon media persons who are in possession of video clippings of the firing incident.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar stated,
AG will take instructions from the State on the action taken based on the complaints within a period of two weeks from today...We also direct state to ascertain whether any video recordings made by the police or the city administration are available.
Karnataka High Court
The High Court further directed that CCTV and video footage of private persons also be placed on record. Such video clippings are to be preserved, the Court pointed out.
During today's hearing, AG Navadgi brought to the attention of the Court that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had already taken cognizance of the matter and had directed the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to take up the matter. In such a case, the matter does not require to be dealt with by the High Court, Navadgi argued.
The Court, however, clarified that though NHRC has the power to conduct enquiry, it does not have the power to issue a writ. It can only make recommendations, the Court stated. The High Court further stated that such recommendations of the NHRC can be considered in the matter.
In the light of the above, the Court agreed to hear the petition filed by 102-year-old freedom fighter, HS Doreswamy, who sought for directions to be issued to the state to register an FIR on complaints received from injured persons and family members of all those who died in the police firing at Mangaluru.
In a connected petition, the Court stated that since the petitioners had not filed an affidavit regarding the nature of activities previously done by them, the Court cannot consider them as a "pro bono litigant". In this regard, the order reads,
"The Learned AG has pointed out that there is one criminal case against the first petitioner... and five criminal cases against the second petitioner. The petitioners have suppressed criminal charges against them. The petitioners have not disclosed a single activity done by them for the enforcement of fundamental rights nor have disclosed the name of a single social organisation are members as stated in the PIL...
...Apart from suppression of facts, the petitioners have made false and incorrect statements. They cannot be considered as probono litigants and therefore, the PIL cannot be entertained by this Court."
The matter will be next listed on February 24.
Advocate Jagadeesha B N will be appearing on behalf of the petitioners.
Earlier this month, the Karnataka High Court had issued notice to the state government in a PIL seeking a judicial inquiry into the violence and excessive use of force by the police, which led to the killing of two civilians and injuries to many others, during an anti-CAA protest in Mangaluru on December 19, 2019.
In its earlier order passed in January, the High Court had directed the Mangaluru police to preserve CCTV footage relating to the incident.