In a setback to the Union government, the High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday set aside the order passed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) handing over murder case of RSS worker Rudresh to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

However, the court refused to interfere in invoking the provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against four accused in the case by the city police, while allowing them to continue the probe.

Justice John Michael Cunha passed the order while partly allowing the petitions filed by Asim Shariff and the other accused, who had questioned handing over the case to NIA besides challenging invoking of Sections 15,16,17,18 and 20 of UAP Act against them by the city police.

“The order of the central government and the documents produced before the court do not disclose that the central government has applied its mind to the facts of the case… and it is clear that without collecting any material, the Under Secretary to the central government has passed the order dated December 7, 2016, entrusting the investigation to the NIA,” the court said.

Pointing out that communication to MHA was by the then Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru, and not by the State government, the court said there is nothing to show that the State government had supplied information or produced documents for consideration of the central government. The court also said that this shows that the contention, taken up by the central government that has based its decision on the report submitted by the State government, “is false”.

Even the letter written by the then Police Commissioner, the court said, only intimated the provisions under which the case was registered, and “did not produce any document or evidence to show either the involvement of the petitioners or that the material collected by the investigation officer indicated the commission of the scheduled offences by the petitioners.”

“On overall consideration of the facts and circumstances discussed, I am of the opinion that central government has failed to comply with the requirements of the Section 6(5) of the Act”, the court said, while noticing that apart from the letter, “there was no other material before the central government to facilitate it to form an opinion that the scheduled offence [offences under UAP Act] has been committed by the accused.”