Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate shows a photograph featuring Prajwal Revanna who was summoned for alleged sexual abuse case, at a press conference in Bengaluru on May 1, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

Bengaluru: A lookout notice has been issued against India’s Janata Dal Secular Member of Parliament Prajwal Revanna amid the political storm over alleged ‘obscene video’ case.

Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara said Revanna has to appear before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating the sexual harassment allegations at the earliest and indicated that he may be arrested if he does not turn up.

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“A look out notice has been issued. It has been informed that he (Prajwal Revanna) has to appear before the SIT. They (HD Revanna and Prajwal Revanna) have to appear as notice is given. If they don’t appear, they will be arrested,” Parmeshwara said.

Thirty-three-year-old Revanna is the grandson of India's former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda.

The development comes a day after Prajwal Revanna sought more time to appear before the investigation team. “As I am not in Bangalore to attend the inquiry, I have communicated to CID, Bangalore, through my advocate. The truth will prevail soon,” he said in the post on Wednesday.

What’s lookout notice?
A lookout notice or Look Out Circular (LOC) is issued to make sure that an individual who is absconding or wanted by law enforcement agencies is not able to leave the country. It is usually used at immigration checkpoints at international airports and seaports.
The goal of an LOC is to track and/or detain a wanted individual and send hin or her into the custody of a law enforcement agency. Once an LOC is issued, it might become difficult for the accused to enter and exit a country.
LOCs can be issued against Indian citizens or foreigners against whom any case is pending and whose presence is required in relation to any investigation.

Who can issue an LOC?
LOCs are issued only by the Bureau of Immigration, Ministry of Home Affairs. However, certain agencies are authorised to request the issuance of LOCs.
Agencies that can request for an LOC include the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the Customs and Income Tax Department.

Can LOCs be challenged in courts?
LOCs can be challenged in a High Court by filing a writ petition, alleging the violation of the fundamental rights of a person without a valid ground. An LOC, being an executive action, is open to scrutiny by High Courts.
In one of it’s ruling, Bombay High Court had noted that LOCs cannot be issued in a routine manner. They can only be issued when a person deliberately evades arrest or does not appear in the trial court, or does not cooperate with the investigation. ”An LOC is a coercive measure to make a person surrender, and as such interferes with the person’s right of personal liberty and free movement, and curtails the fundamental right of an individual to travel,” it said.

Revanna was booked in an alleged sexual harassment case on April 28 following complaints by his former housekeeper. The case has been registered under sections 354A, 354D, 506, and 509 of the IPC on charges of sexual harassment, intimidation and outraging the dignity of a woman.

As per the complaint, the victim has claimed that Prajwal Revanna and his father HD Revanna had sexually assaulted her.

Cache of explicit visuals

The woman, who has told police that he worked as a cook at the Revannas’ home, has also accused the JDS MP of harassing her daughter over video calls.

A huge cache of explicit visuals, allegedly involving Prajwal Revanna, have circulated on the Internet.

“I came to know that notice has been put; I’m ready to face anything; I’m ready to face SIT,” HD Revanna, who is also an accused in the case, said earlier.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has written to Prime Minister Modi, requesting him to direct the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs to cancel the diplomatic passport issued to Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna and ensure his return to face the law.

The JD(S) earlier this week suspended Revanna from the party till the investigation is completed following an uproar over the matter.

The allegations have sparked a massive political storm in the election season. The JDS has tied up with the India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the polls and the allegations against Prajwal Revanna have prompted the Congress to launch an all-out attack against the BJP.

Congress targets BJP

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and questioned his silence.

“The leader on whose shoulder the PM puts his hand and gets himself photographed, the leader for whom the PM himself goes to campaign 10 days before the election. He praises him on the stage. Today, that leader from Karnataka is absconding from the country. Just hearing about his heinous crimes makes my heart tremble. He has ruined the lives of hundreds of women. Modi ji will you remain silent?,” she said in a post on X.

Federal Home Minister Amit Shah has hit back. He has said the BJP cannot remain with those who commit atrocities against women and questioned why the Congress government in Karnataka did not act against him earlier.

“We (BJP) have an alliance with the JD(S). Now (Prajwal) Revanna’s CD has come. They (Congress) thought they can corner the BJP. I am making it clear here BJP cannot remain with those who commit atrocities against women,” the Home Minister has said.

“You did not initiate any action till the elections in the Vokkaliga belt were over. You did politics and allowed him (Prajwal Revanna) to escape. If you have guts, tell the truth. Because of you, a heinous criminal fled the country,” he has added.

The JDS first family belongs to the Vokkaliga community, which holds considerable sway in south Karnataka. Fourteen Lok Sabha seats where Vokkaliga voters play a key role went to polls on April 26.