Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today directed the CBI to obtain within eight weeks the reports of forensic science laboratory of Scotland Yard on evidence in the murder cases of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, communist leader Govind Pansare and scholar M M Kalburgi.
The court asked the Ministry of External Affairs and the Union Home Ministry to coordinate with other departments to ensure that all permissions are in place for CBI to obtain expeditiously the forensic reports from Scotland Yard.
While Dabholkar and Pansare were killed at different places in Maharashtra, Kalburgi was shot dead in Karnataka.
A division bench headed by Justice S C Dharmadhikari set the time frame of eight weeks as it felt that enough time had been lost in obtaining the opinion of a foreign lab.
The court has asked the CBI to procure the reports and present them before it. The bench is hearing a bunch of petitions filed by the families of Dabholkar and Pansare seeking monitoring of probes in both the cases by the high court.
During investigation, the CBI had noticed a pattern in the killings which indicated that the same group might have been involved as the weapons used in the crime were similar. Hence, the agency sent bullets and empty cartridges it has recovered for forensic analysis.
The CBI, probing the Dabholkar killing, and Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Maharashtra, investigating the Pansare killing, today submitted fresh reports on the probe. The reports were presented to the court in a sealed cover by Additional Solicitor General (for CBI) and government pleader Mankunwar Deshmukh (for SIT), and were perused by both the judges.
The bench noted that the CBI report had talked about a suspect in Dabholkar murder case. In this regard, Justice Dharmadhikari asked CBI to arrest the suspect within ten days.
“If the investigations do not conclude fast, it might give an impression to the people at large that you do not want to arrest certain people,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.
Dabholkar was killed in Pune on August 20, 2013, while Pansare was shot on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur. He succumbed to his injuries four days later. Kalburgi was shot dead on August 30 last year at his residence in Dharwad district of Karnataka by two unidentified men.
The CBI and CID have been submitting periodical progress reports of their probe to the HC. The bench also asked both the investigating agencies (CBI and SIT) to bring the probe to its logical end at the earliest as the families of the rationalists had moved the high court and also because the common man had faith in the administration and police machinery.
Justice Dharmadhikari said that in Pansare killing case, the investigation agency (SIT) had been repeatedly saying that the probe would end in near future. “There should be a time frame and investigations should end in a reasonable period.”
Abhay Nevadi, lawyer for Pansare and Dabholkar families, said he had received a letter from Maharashtra Chief Minister about their intention to hand over the probe to CBI.
He also said that in Pansare murder case, the investigation officer was changed on three occasions earlier. However, Justice Dharmadhikari made it clear that no changes would be made in the investigation team without the permission of the high court, as it was monitoring the probe.
The judge also said that for the time being, the SIT would continue to probe the case and no changes would be made by the authorities.
The bench was also of the view that the probe in both the cases should end fast. “These are very sensitive cases in which well known social workers and activists have been killed,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.
Advocate Nevadi also said that if CBI takes time to get forensic reports from Scotland Yard, they can take opinion from an Army laboratory in Chandigarh, which is equally good.
The bench asked him to file an affidavit on these lines and added that it might consider sending evidence to Chandigarh lab, if the reports from Scotland Yard were not forthcoming or were not conclusive.
Right wing activist Sameer Gaikwad, an alleged member of Sanatan Sanstha, was arrested by Kolhapur Police on September 16 last year in connection with Pansare’s murder.
Besides, another Sanatan Sanstha activist Virendra Tawde was arrested by the CBI from Panvel in Navi Mumbai in June this year in connection with Dabholkar’s murder.