The lawyer representing the families of anti-superstition crusaders Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar on Tuesday told the Bombay High Court that the families are “anxious and wondering if there is a new threat to their lives as the security provided to them was suddenly increased”.
Dabholkar was shot on August 20, 2013 in Pune. Pansare was shot on February 16, 2015 at Kolhapur and died four days later.
Advocate Abhay Nevagi, appearing for the Dabholkar-Pansare families, specified that security for Pansare’s family had suddenly been enhanced from one policemen to two. This had made the families anxious and they were wondering if there was a new threat to their safety, Nevagi told the court.
He said that a high-ranking official had informed the families that there is threat to their safety.
A division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharati H Dangre observed: “The murders (of Dabolkar and Pansare) have taken place in 2012-2013 and there have been similar killings in state of Karnataka. There is an apprehension in the minds of liberals, thinkers, social activists etc that if they express their opinions and voice their feelings openly, they would be targeted and so names are already circulated in the media in this regard.” The bench further said: “For all these reasons, investigating team should be reminded of the duty in law and they are obliged to conduct a fair, free and impartial investigation.”
On the previous hearing, since the court was unsatisfied with the reports filed by state’s Special Investigating Team (SIT) in the murder case of Pansare and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the murder case of Dabholkar, it directed Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and the Joint Director of CBI to be present before the court.
On Tuesday, the CBI Joint Director and the Head of the Maharashtra CID’s SIT were present in the court. The officers present before the court said that they want to reveal certain information regarding the case in “strict confidence” in the court’s chambers because the matter is “sensitive and serious nature of crime.”
“The fact that this court has called for the presence of both officers that should remind them that now at least, the court requires them to give proper explanations and would not countenance and tolerate any further delay,” the court said.
The court noted that the officers modified their request and to “purely to maintain confidentiality and secrecy”, they would forward two reports in sealed covers requesting that it should not be presently placed on the file of these petitions. The court said: “However, we clarify that this shall not be treated as precedent in proceedings of this nature.”
The court allowed the request made by “high-ranking officials” supervising and monitoring the investigation.