Dabholkar-Pansare case: More brickbats for State cops

Mumbai: Observing that police machinery should refrain from divulging all details to media, the Bombay High Court on Thursday came down heavily on agencies probing the killings of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and comrade Govind Pansare.

The court said the police should not rush to media in every sensitive case, as it can prove ‘fatal’ for the probe. A division bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and BP Colabawalla also expressed their “dissatisfaction” over the press conference called by Parambir Singh, Additional Director General of Maharashtra police, last week.

The press was addressed by Singh and Pune police, wherein the officers flaunted the “incriminating” letters that they had seized from houses of human rights activists and advocates who are accused of having Maoists links. Justice Dharmadhikari said, “There is so much hue and cry about this media briefing and disclosures made. This over-enthusiasm could be fatal.” “In such sensitive cases where the investigation is in crucial stages, it is not advisable for police to rush to the media. This shows a total lack of maturity,” Justice Dharmadhikari remarked.

The bench further said that by divulging almost all the minute details to media, the police was only alerting the accused. The bench also sought to know from the counsels appearing for CBI and state SIT to name persons at whose instance these officers were holding such press meets. “We do not think that such self-praising and self-patting on their backs by police machinery is advisable. Daily we see information in media regarding such sensitive cases. At whose instance is such important information being given to media?” the bench questioned.

The bench also ordered Additional Solicitor General (ASG), who was appearing for CBI to convey to the police officers, who took the press conference that it was not at all happy with the media briefing. Meanwhile, the state Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is investigating the Pansare murder case, told the judges that it has not divulged any details to the media. Special counsel for the SIT Ashok Mundargi said, “We are probing the case. At present we are awaiting the custody of two accused, who are arrested by CBI in the Dabholkar murder case.”

Having heard the submission, the bench remarked that the SIT should continue with its probe and not wait to interrogate the newly arrested accused. “Ensure your probe does not come to a standstill. Also, do not abandon your past theories. You must keep in mind that both cases have different repercussions,” Justice Dharmadhikari remarked. The bench accordingly posted the matter for further hearing on October 10, directing the agencies to file further progress reports in the case.

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