In a major setback to the Pune police, the Bombay High Court (HC) on Friday transferred the probe into the sensational murder case of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Dabholkar was shot dead by unidentified bike-borne assailants on Omkareshwar bridge in Pune on August 20, 2013.
The HC order came on a PIL filed by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar.
A division bench of Justices P V Hardas and A S Gadkari, said, “The PIL is allowed and the case is being transferred to CBI.”
The activist’s daughter Mukta, had also claimed that the probe was not making any headway for the past six months and sought investigation to be carried out by a Special Investigating Team.
The HC had Thursday reserved its order on Tirodkar’s PIL after the CBI lawyer contended that there was no need to transfer the probe to the investigating agency as no allegations of incompetence had been levelled against the police.
“Even if no allegations were made against authorities, the probe in a criminal case could be transferred to CBI if it has national or international ramifications,” Tirodkar argued.
“His violent death was a reminder of the depths to which discourses around culture had fallen in the state,” read Tirodkar’s PIL.
Mukta’s application said her family felt that some precaution against political interference in the investigation was necessary due to the nature of the crime and in view of the coming elections.
Tirodkar had earlier sought a probe by the National Investigation Agency, but later amended the petition and demanded a CBI
Pune police had earlier submitted case diaries and confidential reports to the court. After going through them, the judges had sought to know the status of the probe and asked the CBI what its stand was.
The government had also informed the court that so far the main conspirators had not been arrested and those who were arrested, had been granted bail.
The Pune crime branch had earlier told the court there was no evidence to support allegations that Hindu right-wing extremists were behind the murder of Dabholkar and there was no need to hand over the probe to NIA. They also said Dabholkar was never under threat and there was no question of monitoring his activities.
Rajendra Bhamare, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Pune Crime Branch, had said the contention that it was the handiwork of right-wing extremists was based only on presumptions or petitioner’s imagination, which is not supported by factual evidence. He had opposed transfer of the probe to NIA as the offence did not come under the purview of the NIA Act.
“Now that the probe has been transferred to CBI, the investigating agency would file a fresh FIR and pursue the matter. The proceedings will now take place in the Special CBI court,” Tirodkar told The Indian Express.