Maintaining that no institution, including the judiciary, is safe in the country, the Bombay High Court on Thursday said that India’s image abroad “is nothing but about crime and rape”. The division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharati H Dangre was hearing a petition on the murders of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. “Secular people are not safe in the country. Those writers and social activists’ lives are also not safe,” Justice Dharmadhikari said. He added that no institution is safe from being attacked, including the judiciary. No international bodies “want to be a part of your cultural events, education”.
“It is unfortunate that today, the image of the country is such that those living abroad feel only crimes and rapes happen in India,” the court said. While Dabholkar was shot dead on August 20, 2013 in Pune, Pansare was shot at on February 16, 2015 in Kolhapur. He died four days later. The CBI, which is investigating Dabholkar’s murder, and the state CID, which is probing the killing of Pansare, on Thursday submitted a report to HC in a sealed envelope.
Learning that the agencies were yet to make headway in the cases, the court said that “we are only worried” that it will play out like other cases, in which the accused returns after two decades like in (bomb) blast cases. It observed that such accused turn themselves in because they get tired and old. They will come after years to take shelter, as they fear for their life or if they are about to die, the court said.
State CID counsel Ashok Mundargi said the investigating officers are on the look out for the accused. He added that the only hope of tracing them is through scientific research and evidence from call data records.
“Is there any way?” the bench asked Mundargi. To this, Mundargi said there may be a better way of investigating and the agency is in pursuit of it. “Not better, we have to outsmart them (accused),” said Justice Dharmadhikari. The bench added that people abroad “have an image of the India that there is nothing but crime and rape”. “Why don’t you take steps to completely strangulate the organisational backing that the accused persons must be receiving?” it said.
The court said that the investigating agency can take help from expert interrogators to probe the case. The suggestion came after Abhay Nevagi, lawyer for the families of Dabholkar and Pansare, told the court that a psychologist should be included in the team of investigation. The court said it “hopes and trusts” that experts would be made a part of the investigation team. It added that it was according a “final opportunity” to the agencies, after which, it will summon senior officials at the next hearing on June 28.