13 March 2021 6:55 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation and the State Special Investigation Team (SIT) when will they complete their probe into the murders of communist leader, Govind Pansare and anti-superstition crusader Narendra Dabholkar, respectively. A division bench of Justices JJ Shinde and Manish Pitale asked for status reports after it was informed that the trial...
A division bench of Justices JJ Shinde and Manish Pitale asked for status reports after it was informed that the trial in journalist Gauri Lankesh's 2017 murder, in Karnataka, with a similar set of accused, has already begun but the investigation is still not complete, in Maharashtra.
"One day there has to be an end to this. This is a 2013 incident; we are in 2021. We are disturbed by the petitioner's statement that the trial has already begun in Karnataka, but here the investigation is not even complete. The incident in Karnataka is after this."
The HC is monitoring the investigation into the murders of Dabholkar on August 20, 2013, and CPI leader Govind Pansare on February 20, 2015, on a clutch of petitions by their families. The case was heard last in February 2020 by a bench headed by Justice SC Dharmadhikari.
During the hearing on Friday, Additional Solicitor General, Anil Singh, submitted that the CBI has been filing status reports on Dabholkar's murder from time to time. "This matter has come up suddenly, we will file a report."
"It has been specially assigned to us. What is progress?" Justice Shinde asked.
Advocate Abhay Nevagi appearing for the families of the slain activists said that there are four murders Dabholkar, Pansare, renowned epigraphist MM Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh.
Kalburgi was shot dead on August 30, 2015, while Lankesh was assassinated on September 5, 2017.
Nevagi submitted that it was the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that found a link in all four cases. And while the CBI had filed three charge sheets against the four accused in the Dabholkar case, the SIT has made no headway in Pansare's case.
AGS said that in their case five arrests were made and one person is on bail. "This case is coming for the first time before us but this is an old incident." Justice Shinde observed.
Nevagi then informed the court that the Karnataka cases had made progress and the trial had already begun in Gauri Lankesh's case. Nevagi later clarified that the discharge pleas of certain accused were rejected and the prosecutor was in the process of submitting draft charges to the court.
"Citizens must know that in such a sensitive case, when will the investigation and trial be completed. We are not creating aspersions on the investigation but still." Justice Shinde said.
The Court then posted the matter for hearing on March 30 with a specific direction to the State and CBI to come with a positive statement.