18 Aug 2023 9:53 AM GMT
A Division Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia, resumed its hearing on a plea challenging the Bombay High Court’s refusal to continue monitoring the case relating to the murder of anti-superstition crusader Narendra Dabholkar. The Bench was hearing the petition filed by Mukta Dabholkar, daughter of Narendra Dabholkar.The Bench has granted...
A Division Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia, resumed its hearing on a plea challenging the Bombay High Court’s refusal to continue monitoring the case relating to the murder of anti-superstition crusader Narendra Dabholkar. The Bench was hearing the petition filed by Mukta Dabholkar, daughter of Narendra Dabholkar.
The Bench has granted two weeks to the Senior Advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the petitioner, for filling of some additional documents. The Bench observed that these documents could also facilitate Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the CBI, in examining the issue of a larger conspiracy.
The details of the previous hearing can be seen here, and the High Court’s order can be seen here.
Grover argued that the issues involved are two folds. Firstly, the CBI investigation was not completed when the impugned order was passed. Secondly, even perfunctory evidence indicated that the murders of Govind Pansare, Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Professor MM Kalburgi, and Gauri Lankesh are interconnected. Grover also contended that this issue was agitated before the Bombay High Court.
At this stage, Justice Dhulia observed that since the trial is going on and several witnesses had been examined thus, High Court had refused to monitor the investigation. "What is wrong with such an observation?”, the Judge asked.
Grover replied that despite the trial, the absconders had not been nabbed till date. Additionally, there is more to the case.
Justice Kaul said that the Bench has limitations to this matter and asked the ASG about the status quo.
ASG replied that the counter affidavit had been filed on 31st May 2023 though the same has not been accepted due to some administrative difficulties. She went on to submit about the trial status. She apprised the Bench that 20 witnesses had been examined.
After that, Justice Kaul asked about the larger conspiracy Grover had alleged.
ASG answered by stating that in an ongoing investigation of five accused, there is no sufficient evidence against three of them, and the other two are not connected. Further, there is a trial going on for the other five accused.
To this, Justice Dhulia asked: “The accused who are facing a trial, according to you there is no common thread in those four murders? Right? That is what you are saying?”
Justice Kaul said that this is what the Bench wants to know and asked ASG to look into the same.
The present case pertains to Narendra Dabholkar, a rationalist and social activist, who was shot dead by extremist elements on his morning walk in 2013.
In 2014, the High Court transferred the probe to the CBI from Pune police following a petition by activist Ketan Tirodkar and later by Mukta Dabholkar. Since then, the court has been monitoring the progress of the case.
In 2021, the special Pune court framed charges against alleged mastermind Virendra Sinh Tawde. It charged him and three others for murder, conspiracy and terror-related offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The fifth accused, Advocate Sanjeev Punalekar was charged with destruction of evidence.
The accused were allegedly connected to the right-wing religious outfit Sanathan Sanstha. Since then, several witnesses have been examined in the case.
Case Title: Mukta Dabholkar And Anr. v. CBI And Ors. SLP(Crl) No. 6539/2023