Observing that a balance has to be maintained between the rights of an accused and those of the family of the victim, the Bombay High Court today continued the stay on trial against two accused in the activist Govind Pansare killing case.
Justice Revati Mohite Dere made the observation while hearing an application filed by Maharashtra government’s CID, which is probing the killing, seeking stay on the trial as investigations were still on to see if there was any link with the killing of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.
The court had in 2016 granted an interim stay on the trial after the Crime Investigation Department (CID) informed it that the CBI, which was investigating the Dabholkar case, was awaiting forensic reports on the bullets recovered from the scene of the both the killings.
CID counsel Ashok Mundargi told the court today that reports received from the forensic labs in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka point at some links.
“Further investigation is still on. The shooters and the main conspirators in both the cases are still at large. Hence, it would be appropriate for the court to extend the stay on trial,” Mundargi said.
Advocate Sanjeev Punalekar, appearing for one of the arrested accused in the case Virendra Tawde, opposed it and said his client was lodged in jail since 2016 and his rights need to be protected.
To this, Justice Dere said, “We also have to keep in mind the rights of the victim’s family members. There has to be a balance between the rights of the accused and rights of the victim’s families.”
“I will hear this application on February 23. Till then the interim stay will continue,” the court said.
Justice Dere also observed that there appears to be lack of coordination between the two agencies.
“When you (CID) are saying there is some link between the two cases, would it not be better that one agency probes both the cases. The state government has powers to transfer the case to CBI,” Justice Dere said.
Mundargi then said both the agencies have now had joint meetings and are sharing information.
Dabholkar was killed in Pune on August 20, 2013 and Pansare was shot on February 16, 2015 in Kolhapur. He died on February 20 in a hospital here.