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The Bombay High Court Thursday said it would not allow any change of guard in terms of carrying out investigations into rationalist Govind Pansare’s murder which is being probed by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Maharashtra police.
During the last hearing, the High Court had asked the state government to clarify if it planned to transfer the murder case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after the the lawyer appearing for the families of Narendra Dabholkar and Pansare, Abhay Nevagi, informed the court that the state had considered the latter’s family’s request to transfer the investigation to the CBI.
“We inquired from the state if it had any intention to hand over the investigations in the Govind Pansare murder to the CBI and have been informed that no such decision had been taken. The SIT will continue to carry out investigations. The state government should not affect any changes or composition without obtaining leave of the court,” said Justice Dharmadhikari.
A division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice Dr Shalini Phansalkar Joshi were hearing petitions filed by the respective families of Dabholkar and Pansare expressing unhappiness with the probe being conducted by the CBI in Dabholkar’s case and the SIT in Pansare’s. They had sought for the High Court to monitor the probe.
Dabholkar was shot on August 20, 2013 in Pune while Pansare was shot at on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur. He died four days later on February 20.
The court came down heavily on both the state and the CBI for the slow progress in the investigations in both cases. The court has directed the CBI to ensure cooperation among all ministries to ensure procurement of the ballistic report for ascertaining if the same gun was being used during the murders of Dabholkar, Pansare and writer MM Kalburgi. The CBI had decided to seek the help of Scotland Yard in the matter.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, appearing for the CBI, informed the court that “some formalities still remain to be completed”. It is only after the CBI completes these formalities that Scotland Yard will start looking into the case and only after that is the report expected. Singh sought 12 weeks to submit the report but the court has granted both agencies eight weeks to submit their reports.
“Diplomatic channels should help in the investigation. Why can’t an officer be sent to facilitate the process? Somebody should go and coordinate with Scotland Yard,” he said.
Singh told the court that there was no obstacle but in the same status report which he presented to the court in sealed covers he had mentioned the difficulties. The court emphasised that the reputation of the agencies and the system was at stake.
The CBI also told the court about an absconding accused in the case that it is looking for. The court has sought a report in 10 days about the progress made in arresting him. Justice Dharmadhikari said, “The impression that people get is that there is some refined motive for this tardy approach towards the investigation.”
The SIT which is investigating the Pansare murder case told the court that it had taken statements of several vital witnesses and in some of these statements they have vital evidence against another person. “However, that suspect is avoiding the machinery and has been on the run. We are doing our best to track him down,” said the public prosecutor. The court told the government to set an outer limit in such matters.