Citing alleged lapses in investigation and believing that the probe is being ‘compromised’ because of the connection of the accused with ‘influential’ persons, Sandeep Shetty, brother of slain RTI activist Satish Shetty, has filed a criminal writ petition in the Bombay High Court, seeking a probe monitored by the high court.
In the petition, he says, “Since this case involves influential people and the relationship between the prime accused in this case Virendra Mhaisakar, CMD IRB Infrastructure and a Cabinet minister in the Union Government of India is exhaustively reported by the media and publicly known, the petitioner is apprehensive that he may be eliminated, as he is the only person now who is resisting the cover up operation. The previous attempt made by the CBI to close the case was thwarted by the petitioner with the help of this honorable court. The petitioner, therefore, believes that in such scenario, the court should become the custodian of this case and protect the fundamental right to justice to both the deceased (brother of the petitioner) and the petitioner himself.”
When contacted, Sandeep told The Indian Express, “I am arguing in the petition that CBI probe since the beginning has been compromised because those accused of the crime are connected with very powerful people.”
Sandeep has made CBI director Anilkumar Sinha and investigating officer Vijay Kumar Shukla respondents in the petition.
He added, “The CBI has arrested two former cops in this case. The CBI had same evidence in 2012, still it closed the case. The probe was reopened by the CBI in 2014, after it carried out searches at the premises of the IRB. The agency had said that the probe was re-opened based on facts found during search operations and even then, the chargesheet in the same crime does not even mention IRB. The case is of a murder, which is under Indian Penal Code section 302, but the CBI has only leveled charges for covering up the crime against the former cops, who were part of the murder probe of Pune rural police. These questions need to be answered and thus, I have asked for a court monitored probe.”
Replying to an email query from The Indian Express, a spokesperson, IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd, said, “At the outset, we strongly deny allegations made in the e-mail below. Further, we are not aware of any such petition. We would like to inform you that we had always cooperated with the respective agencies in connection with the said matter.”
Meanwhile, CBI filed closure report stating no evidence against Mhaiskar, other suspects. “The dubious action of closing the investigation in murder case of Late Satish Shetty by the CBI within two days of obtaining an order from this Hon’ble Court for re-investigating the Land Scam case, which was contended by the CBI to be the motive behind the murder, itself reveals the malafide intent of the CBI to protect the real culprits in these crimes,” the petition states.
Meanwhile, the CBI re-opened the land scam case on August 28, 2014, conducted searches in Pune and Mumbai during the probe and seized incriminating material. Based on it, the CBI again re-opened the murder case in January 2015. Then, in April 2016, the CBI arrested two retired police inspector Andhalkar and retired assistant police inspector Namdev Kauthale, both part of the local crime branch (LCB) of the Pune rural police, which was investigating the Shetty murder case initially.
Pune rural police team, led by Andhalkar, had arrested advocate Vijay Dabhade among six others in the murder case. But, raising doubts about these arrests, in a press release, CBI had stated that Andhalkar and Kauthale “conspired with others and fabricated, and manipulated evidences to shield the real conspirators and killers.”
In the chargesheet filed against the duo in July 4, however, CBI did not invoke murder charges against them. The duo were only charged under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 193creating false evidence), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence, 211 (false charge of offence made) and 218 (public servant framing incorrect record) of IPC. Apparently, the sessions courts granted bail to the two former cops on July 20.
An interesting fact that Sandeep mentioned in the petition was that after being released on bail, Andhalkar addressed a press conference in which he said that investigation by the current CBI team (which had arrested him) is going on in the right direction.
Andhalkar also said that investigation by the CBI team that had filed “closure report” in the murder case is “doubtful”.
Advocate Abha Singh, who is representing Shetty for the petition said, “It clearly appears that the CBI probe has been conducted under influence.”
Hearing after 10 months
Sandeep Shetty said that he has hopes pinned on the high court, but is upset as the date of hearing given to him is of August 16, 2017, which is nearly 10 months from now.
“Earlier the date allotted for the hearing was September 22, this year. But two days before this date, the hearing was rescheduled 10 months later,” he said.
“We have seen this in some cases that the petitions face such delays. The system needs a reform as the judiciary needs to give priority to the cases as this one,” said advocate Abha Singh.