Mohsin Shaikh murder case: Pune cops pulled up by Bombay HC for being ‘onlookers’

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the Pune police for being ‘onlookers’ in the Mohsin Shaikh murder case and not making any effort to arrest the assailants, who had escaped from the crime scene.

A single-judge bench of Mridula Bhatkar pulled up the police for their carelessness and casual approach. Justice Bhatkar was hearing the bail applications of Vijay Gambhire, Ajay Lalge and Ganesh Yadav, whom she had granted bail last year but ‘religious’ remarks in her orders were challenged in the Supreme Court, which has asked her to decide the pleas afresh.

During the course of the hearing, Justice Bhatkar perused the statements of a police inspector, who categorically stated that at the time of the incident, he along with two other officers was present near the spot and witnessed the assailants running away from the crime scene.

Irked by this, Justice Bhatkar said, “What kind of approach is this? You are police officers. You have authority to make arrest. You cannot become onlookers and witness the crime. The least expected from you was to chase and make effort to arrest the assailants.”

“It is really difficult for me to appreciate you or your approach. You are authorised to make arrests but here you kept on looking at the assailants fleeing away from the crime scene after killing someone. You cannot function in this manner,” Justice Bhatkar remarked. Meanwhile, the advocates appearing for the trio urged Justice Bhatkar to grant bail to their clients on ground of parity as already 17 accused in the case are released on bail.

Having heard the submissions and perused the orders of the two judges and also the evidence, Justice Bhatkar asked the police to place on record any ‘special’ evidence against the trio.

“I am aware of the orders passed by this Court granting bail to some co-accused in the case. The findings recorded by the two benches are obviously binding upon me and I ought to go by those findings unless there is some special evidence placed on record against these accused,” Justice Bhatkar said while posting the matter for further hearing on Wednesday.

I would have deleted the ‘religious’ remarks: Justice Bhatkar

The Maharashtra government on Tuesday was running short of words to explain as to why it challenged the orders of Justice Mridula Bhatkar granting bail to three accused in the case. The government had challenged Justice Bhatkar’s orders before the Supreme Court, wherein she had made ‘religious’ remarks. However, the apex court remanded the matter back to Justice Bhatkar.

During the course of the hearing, Justice Bhatkar asked the government to explain why it had challenged only her orders as before her, two other judges had granted bail to nearly 17 accused in the case. “Can I know why my orders were treated differently and in isolation? Was it done so only because I used the word religion?” she asked.

To this, neither the government nor Mohsin Shaikh’s family could give a justification. “I believe instead of approaching the apex court you could have directly come to me. You could have felt free and requested me to delete the remarks, I would have had surely made the changes. It is my duty to address the issue properly,” she added.

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