After 13 witnesses turned hostile,Supreme Court (SC) stayed on Friday the Pawanraje Nimbalkar murder trial. MP Padamsinh Patil,suspended from NCP,is a prime accused in the case.
The SC issued a notice to the Maharashtra government and CBI to make necessary arrangements to shift the case from Panvel sessions court.
Congress leader Nimbalkars family had moved the apex court on Wednesday claiming witnesses were turning hostile under pressure from the influential accused.
SC issued a notice to the state government and stayed the case, said senior lawyer Kamini Jaiswal,who appeared for the petitioner.
According to the prosecution,Patil allegedly ordered Nimbalkars contract killing after the Congress leader exposed a scam in the MPs sugar factories in 2005. The scam was extensively reported in the media and CBI claimed Patil wanted to avenge this.
On June 3,2006,Nimbalkar was allegedly called to meet one of the accused,Parasmal Jain,at Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai to seal a land deal and shot by contract killers.
The case was handed over to CBI in 2009,following a petition by Nimbalkars relatives. CBI arrested Jain,Dinesh Tiwari,Satish Mandade,Mohan Shukla and Patil.
After spending a few months behind bars,Patil was released on bail. CBI immediately moved Bombay High Court seeking cancellation of his bail saying he was influencing and threatening witnesses. The petition is still pending.
This (stay) order is a validation of our claims. Maharashtra has not seen many cases being transferred to another state. The accused is influential and the transfer will help us conduct the case better, said a senior CBI officer.
Over 35 witnesses have been examined before the Panvel court. A few key witnesses,who had told police they saw the accused at the crime scene,turned hostile.
CBI claimed Nimbalkar and his driver were gunned down by two men on June 3,2006,when they were going to Kalamboli in a Skoda.
A green-coloured Indica overtook the Skoda and stopped it.
CBI claimed Tiwari,Pintu Singh and wanted accused Chotu Pandey allegedly shot Nimbalkar and his driver.