SC grants bail to K’taka ex-minister Kulkarni in BJP worker murder case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed bail to Karnataka Congress leader and former minister Vinay Kulkarni, arrested last November by the CBI for his alleged involvement in murder of a BJP worker in Dharwad in 2016.

Providing relief to Kulkarni, a bench of Justices U.U. Lalit and Ajay Rastogi said Kulkarni be produced before the trial court concerned within three days, and that bail can be granted to him, subject to conditions to be imposed by the court. However, the top court restrained Kulkarni from entering Dharwad and also directed him not to impede in the process of investigation in the case.

Yogeshgouda Goudar, 26, a member of district Panchayat, was hacked to death on June 15, 2016, at his gym in Saptapur in Dharwad. He was initially immobilised with chilli powder, which was thrown on his face. The victim’s family members suspected the role of the Congress leader in the murder.

The CBI counsel opposed bail for Kulkarni in the case. The state government in September 2019, had handed over investigation in the case to the CBI.

Citing gaps in the CBI’s case, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Kulkarni, claimed that there were discrepancies with what Dharwad police earlier claimed in its initial investigation report.

Kulkarni, a former Congress MLA from Dharwad, was arrested by CBI in November last year, after his questioning in the case. Earlier, the CBI had filed charge sheets against several accused in the case.

Kulkarni had won the Dharwad seat in 2013 but he was defeated in 2018 by the BJP’s candidate.