Mumbai: Voicing its concern over the ‘dangerous trend’ of targeting people who hold ‘liberal values and principles,’ the Bombay High Court on Thursday said that such a tendency is bringing disrepute to the country. The court even made a reference to the shocking murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead last month at her residence in Bengaluru.
A division bench of Justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharati Dangre said, “At present, we can say that there is absolutely no respect for liberal values and opinions. The ones who believe in liberalism are increasingly being targeted for their principles. In the current scenario, we can say that not only thinkers, but any person, or rather any organisation that believes in liberal principles, can be targeted.”
“It’s like if there is some opposition to me, I must have that person eliminated. This trend of killing any and all opposition and liberal values is dangerous. This is bringing disrepute to the country,” Justice Dharamadhikari observed.
The judges were hearing a batch of petitions asking the court to monitor the probe in the murder cases of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. During the course of hearing, the CBI and the State appointed Special Investigations Team submitted their progress reports to the judges.
After perusing the reports, Justice Dharmadhikari said, “We believe that the efforts made by both the agencies are genuine but the fact is that the main accused are still at large. We have also noted that almost between every adjournment of this case, a precious life is lost. One more such like-minded and precious life was lost last month in Bengaluru.”
Referring to Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar, the prime accused who shot Dabholkar to death, the judges said that if the main accused are not nabbed on time, then there are chances that more such people can be targeted. The judges said, “What is the guarantee more people would not be targeted for their principles in future? The agencies must take this as a challenge since the organisations backing the accused are feeling emboldened. The agencies must try altering their line of probe.”
Meanwhile, advocate Abhay Nevagi, appearing for the Dabholkar-Pansare families, argued that the agencies have not probed the role of the controversial right wing group – Sanatan Sanstha — in these killings. Justice Dharmadhikari refused to accept the apprehension of the families and said, “Though we cannot make
public the contents of the reports submitted before us, but, yes, we can say this much that the agencies have examined all the angles. The agencies have not avoided the possibility of the role of Sanatan Sanstha in these cases.” The matter would now be taken up for hearing on December 7.