A sessions court in Pune on Friday granted bail to lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar in the case of August 2013 murder of nationalist and anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, for which he was arrested on May 25.
Along with being part of the overall conspiracy to murder Dr Dabholkar, Punalekar has been accused by the CBI of advising Sharad Kalaskar, one of the two alleged shooters of Dr Dabholkar, on how to dismantle the firearm used in the murder.
According to the CBI, Kalaskar, who is also an accused in the 2017 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, had followed the lawyer’s advice and dumped four pistols, including the one used to kill Lankesh, in the Thane cree.
On May 25, Punalekar was arrested along with his aide Vikram Bhave, a member of Sanatan Sanstha. Bhave had not moved for bail and has been in judicial custody in Yerawada jail, like Punalekar. After being remanded to judicial custody, Punalekar’s bail application was moved before the court of Additional Session judge RM Pande on June 7.
While granting Punalekar the bail, the court said that he will have to be present before CBI on every Monday and Tuesday and will not be allowed to travel abroad. A prior permission will have to be taken for doing the same. The court also said that CBI can call Punalekar for questioning and he will be present for it.
Adv Virendra Ichalkaranjikar, who represented Punalekar said that he will be released after completion of bail formalities.
Punalekar (53), an office bearer of the Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad, a lawyer’s body, has been giving legal representation to several Sanatan Sanstha members and other Hindutva activists accused in many other cases. He had not only appeared for some of the accused in Dabholkar murder case but also been seen and quoted in the media. Bhave (34), a Sanatan Sanstha member, is a convict in the case of blasts on the premises some theatres and auditorium in Thane in 2008, who was later released on bail by the Bombay High Court in 2013. Bhave had been assisting Punalekar in his legal work, sources said.