Dabholkar, Pansare cases: How long will probe take? Bombay HC asks CBI, Maharashtra CID

Dabholkar, Pansare cases: How long will probe take?, Bombay HC asks CBI, Maharashtra CID
Combo image of Narendra Dabholkar (right), Govind Pansare (centre) and MM Kalburgi (left). File Photos (Agencies)

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra CID and the CBI to state clearly when their probe into the killings of activists Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar would be complete.

The state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is probing the killing of communist leader Pansare while the central agency is probing the killing of Dabholkar, a well-known anti-superstition activist.

A bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale also asked why the trial in the rationalist M M Kalburgi killing case has already begun in Karnataka while the probe in these two older cases is incomplete.

In "sensitive cases," citizens of the country deserved to know when probe agencies would complete a probe and when the trial is likely to begin, the court said.

"We are very disturbed to know that while the trial in a similar incident in Karnataka has already commenced, in Maharashtra, it is not clear when the investigation will be completed even though the cases are of similar nature," the bench said.

Dabholkar was shot dead on August 20, 2013, in Pune, while Pansare was shot on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur in western Maharashtra and died four days later.

Kalburgi, a Kannada scholar, was shot dead on August 30, 2015.

Probe agencies have said these three cases as well as the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh in 2017 were linked and right-wing extremists were behind them.

The HC is hearing petitions filed by the kin of Dabholkar and Pansare seeking a court monitoring of the two probes.

CBI lawyer and Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh said the agency had "done whatever was possible," but was unable to retrieve the weapon used in the Dabholkar case which the accused supposedly dumped in the Thane creek.

The CBI would file a fresh investigation status report before the next hearing, he said.

Of the five accused arrested in the Dabholkar case, one was out on bail and others including the two alleged shooters were in custody, Singh informed.

Petitioners' lawyer Abhay Nevagi said while the CBI had made some progress and filed three chargesheets, there had been no progress in the CID's probe into the Pansare case.

At this, the state's lawyer Mankunwar Deshmukh too volunteered to file a status report.

The bench said it did not doubt the "bonafide" of the probe agencies but they must take the two cases to their "logical conclusion".

"The incidents happened in 2013 and 2015. We are now in 2021. How long will it go on like this?" the high court asked.

"You take clear, concrete instructions and make a positive statement on the next date on how much time you will take," the HC said, adjourning the hearing to March 30.

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