The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday informed the Bombay high court that it cannot probe into the murder of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar as the offence fell under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and was not covered under the purview of NIA Act.
Dabholkar, who spearheaded the anti-superstition movement, was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Pune on August 20.
NIA counsel FR Shaikh informed a bench headed by justice PV Hardas that 220 policemen were engaged in investigating the murder of Dabholkar and statements of 600 witnesses had already been recorded in this case.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by former scribe Ketan Tirodkar seeking investigation by a central agency into Dabholkar's murder.
An affidavit filed by NIA superintendent Suhas Warke said prima facie it was a case of murder which fell under IPC and was being probed by police. Under the NIA Act, the agency can probe only scheduled offences such as those falling under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
"The NIA Act, 2008, constituted an investigating agency at the national level to investigate and prosecute offences affecting sovereignty, security and integrity of India and its states," reads the affidavit.
The PIL alleged that the murder was the handiwork of Hindu right wing activists and that the government had been very slow in prosecuting them.
NIA contended that the PIL was based on a presumption of the role of Hindu activists in the murder, and not on law and facts, and hence would not bring the
offence under the purview of scheduled offences specified under the NIA Act such as UAPA.
The PIL, on the other hand, argued that the offence of Dabholkar's murder was covered under Section 15 of UAPA and hence NIA be directed to probe this case.