The killing of a wild sambar deer in 1998 has had to be buried 15 years on with the death of the veterinary doctor who identified the animal. What this means is that the six of the accused – the seventh one is dead – will get away scot free, thanks to the forest department sleeping for 12 years before filing a chargesheet.
The chargesheet, which should have been filed within 90 days, named only one of the accused since the police does not know the whereabouts of the others. But the huge delay meant that it could not stand the scrutiny of the court and the chargesheet, filed in Aug 2010, has been quashed by the High Court.
On the night of November 5, 1998, forest department guards spotted seven people carrying about 10 kg of meat in the Kasanamakki forest area in Someshwara, Karkal range. When they were asked to stop, they ran away leaving behind the meat, suspected to be of a wild animal. The forest guards also recovered plastic bags, torches and a countrymade gun from the spot.
A veterinary doctor who checked the meat reported that it was from a sambar deer. The culprits who killed the deer were identified as Dadu Poojari, Gopala Naik, Soma Koraga, Ranga Harijana, Gurva Koraka and two others. Since the meat was found adjacent to a farm owned by one Prakash Shetty, the forest department identified him as also responsible for the killing. In fact, Shetty was the only accused who was produced in court.
While the matter remained undecided in a lower court, Shetty approached the HC. The matter came up before Justice V Jagannathan on Friday. Shetty’s counsel Pawan Chandra Shetty argued that his client only happened to have his farm near the place where the meat was found and had no hand in killing the animal. Moreover, the forest department’s delay in taking action was to help the real culprits, Shetty’s counsel said.
The court held that there was an inordinate delay in filing the chargesheet and quashed the case against Shetty. With this, the 15-year-old mystery on who killed the sambar will remain buried forever.
My client only has his farm near the place where the meat was found. Forest department delayed taking action to help real culprits
Pawan Chandra Shetty, counsel of Prakash Shetty, the accused