3 dragged out of car, lynched by villagers
3 dragged out of car, lynched by villagers

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, sought the Maharashtra government's response on the killing of two Sadhus in Palghar on April 16 in separate petitions seeking the probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to ensure the evidence in the matter is not destroyed in the ongoing police investigation.

Fixing further hearing on the petitions for the second week of July, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, MR Shah and V Ramasubramanian rejected the plea of the Maharashtra government's counsel not to hear the petitions, since similar matters were also pending before the Bombay High Court.

The petitioners, who are Juna Akhara priests and relatives of the victims, told the top court that they have no trust in the probe by the police since the sadhus Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri (70) and Sushilgiri Maharaj Kalpavrukshagir (35) and their driver were mercilessly beaten up in the presence of the police officials. So they see possible complicity of police and the state government.

Counsel for Juna Akhara claimed ‘witnesses are committing suicide because of the pressure by the police officials holding the probe’. The counsel for a relative seeking NIA probe argued that ‘our apprehension is that the evidence will disappear if the police continue to muddle’.

Juna Akhara sadhus' counsel said, "There is a reasonable apprehension of bias, if Respondent No. 2 (Maharashtra police) proceeds with the investigation. It is judicially acknowledged that right to fair and just investigation is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Therefore, the petitioners have approached this court inter alia, seeking transfer of investigation of the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation."

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