Narendra Dabholkar Murder: Pune Court Acquits 3 Accused, Sentences 2 To Life Imprisonment In 11-Year-Old Case

Narendra Dabholkar Murder: Pune Court Acquits 3 Accused, Sentences 2 To Life Imprisonment In 11-Year-Old Case

Special court criticised officials for UAPA sanction in the Dabholkar murder case.

Charul Shah JoshiUpdated: Friday, May 10, 2024, 11:43 PM IST
article-image
File Pic

The sessions court in  Pune sentenced two assailants - Sachin Andure (33) and Sharad Kalaskar (28) - to life imprisonment for the murder of rationalist leader Dr Narendra Dabholkar (69) on August 22, 2013.  Dabholkar was on his morning walk on Omkareshwar bridge  in Pune at 7.30 a.m. when two motorcycle-borne men gunned him down.  The court however, acquitted alleged conspirators Dr Virendra Tawde, advocate Sanjiv Punalekar and Vikram Bhave for want of evidence. The court also observed that the Pune police and the  CBI had failed to track down the  mastermind behind the murder. Incidentally, the investigators had also failed to find the pistol with which the rationalist was shot dead.

The prosecution had alleged that Tawde was a member of the Sanatan Sanstha which was upset with  Dabholkar for his remarks on certain Hindu religious practices and thus had allegedly conspired to kill him. The court however, said that there were not enough evidence to prove Tawde's role in the crime and the agency had failed to probe the mastermind of the case.

On failure of the police to unearth the faces behind the murder of Dabholkar, the additional sessions judge Prabhakar P. Jadhav, observed, that "Considering the economical and social status of the Andure and Kalaskar  , they are not the masterminds of the crime. The main master mind behind the crime is someone else. Pune police as well as CBI has failed to unearth those masterminds. They have to introspect whether it is their failure or deliberate inaction on their part due to influence by any person in powers."

The court however held that the motive behind the murder of Dabholkar is proved as it said, "there is reliable evidence that Sanatan Sanstha was bitterly opposing the deceased (Dr Dabholkar) and accused are connected with said Sanatan Sanstha and its sister organisation." However, the court said to prove the offence mere motive is not enough. 

The case was first registered with Deccan police station and later on the case was transferred to the Pune crime branch for the investigation. Later on May 9, 2014, the Bombay high court transferred the probe to the CBI in response to a PIL. Thus, CBI, on June 2, 2016 registered a separate case and initiated the probe.

Along with Andure and Kalaskar,  ENT practitioner Dr Tawde, Mumbai- based lawyer Sanjiv Punalekar and Panvel- resident Vikram Bhave, who was also booked in 2006 Malegaon blast case, were charged with conspiracy to kill the rationalist.  They were charged for murder, conspiracy to murder under the Indian Penal Code and also under the relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The prosecution had claimed that Dr Tawde,  who was also associated with the  Hindu Janjagruti Samiti,  had personal differences with Dabholkar. The CBI claimed that the murder was orchestrated on the instruction of Dr Tawde out of the personal animity. Bhave had arranged a bike to conduct recce 15 days prior to the incident. Bhave thus as per the prosecution case was involved in execution of the conspiracy of murder. 

Meanwhile, after the murder when Kalaskar had been to office of Punalekar who was a lawyer for Sanatan Sanstha he had advised him to destroy the weapon used in the murder. Thus Kalaskar threw four pistols into a creek. However, no weapons were ever found.

The defence lawyers - had contended that Dabholkar was not shot dead at the spot of incident but was shot at some other spot and his body was dumped on the spot of incident by carrying it in a tempo. Besides, it was also contended that Dabholkar had enmity with many other persons, who were never probed. Last, Andure and Kalaskar had examined their sisters to prove that on the day of incident, it was Rakshabandhan and the two were with at the homes of their sisters. 

The special judge while holding Andure and Kalaskar guilty of murder of Dabholkar, discarded the  testimony of their sisters calling it a desperate attempt to save their real brothers. The court  relied on the testimony of two eye witnesses - a sweeper and another a local resident who had gone for a morning walk at the spot - and had seen the two on the spot and running away after firing at Dabholkar. Meanwhile, after the killing Kalaskar had gone to see his old friend, a restaurant owner in Aurangabad and had confessed to him about having killed Dabholkar. These testimonies ,  the court said,  was enough to hold the two guilty of murder.

While acquitting, Tawde, Punalekar and Bhave the court said, "there is evidence of motive for murder of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar against accused No.1 Dr Virendrasinh Tawde. There is reasonable suspicion against accused No. 4. Sanjiv Punalekar and accused No.5. Vikram Bhave, showing their involvement in the present crime. However, the prosecution has failed to establish the involvement of accused trio by leading reliable evidence to convert motive and suspicion into the form of evidence showing their involvement in the crime."

Moreover,Special court criticizes officials for UAPA sanction in Dabholkar case. The court said the two officials were very casual in their approach and did not apply their mind while giving sanction to the case and held the sanction given by them invalid. Meanwhile, the court criticised the defence lawyers for their approach in allegedly defaming Dabholkar.

RECENT STORIES

Mumbai News: BMC Medical Interns Seek Disbursement Of Hiked Stipend

Mumbai News: BMC Medical Interns Seek Disbursement Of Hiked Stipend

Mumbai: Senior IPS Officer's Husband Arrested In ₹263 Crore TDS Refund Fraud

Mumbai: Senior IPS Officer's Husband Arrested In ₹263 Crore TDS Refund Fraud

Mumbai: Candlelight Concert Series Arrives In India For The First Time

Mumbai: Candlelight Concert Series Arrives In India For The First Time

'Loss Of 2.33 Million Hectares Of Tree Cover': NGT Seeks Centre’s Response

'Loss Of 2.33 Million Hectares Of Tree
Cover': NGT Seeks Centre’s Response

Mumbai: 'Reasons Beyond My Control Prevented Return To India,' Says Mehul Choksi

Mumbai: 'Reasons Beyond My Control Prevented Return To India,' Says Mehul Choksi