The Bombay high court on Wednesday refused to stay the trial of Samir Gaikwad, the sole accused in the murder of rationalist Govind Pansare in February 2015.
Gaikwad, an alleged member of the right-wing group Sanathan Sanstha, was arrested in September last year by the Special Investigating Team (SIT) constituted by the Maharashtra government to investigate Pansare’s murder.
A trial court in Kolhapur is likely to frame charges against Gaikwad on April 29.
The SIT, however, had moved the high court seeking a stay on this, saying its investigations were yet to be completed. On Wednesday, the state government’s counsel advocate Sandeep Shinde told the bench the SIT had concluded there were “several similarities in the murders of rationalist leaders Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar, and Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi.”
Shinde said that thus, the SIT was coordinating with the CBI and the Karnataka police to determine whether the same weapon was used for all three murders. He urged the court to stay the framing of charges at least until it receives the ballistic reports on the bullets and empty cartridge shells recovered from the sites of the murders.
A bench of justice SC Dharmadhikari and justice Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, however, refused to interfere with the trial court’s proceedings saying that one must repose “trust in the judiciary and let the lower court follow the processes of the Criminal Procedure Code.”
The bench also pulled up both the state SIT and the CBI for the meagre headway made in the Pansare and Dabholkar murders respectively.
Observing that the court did not intend to witness “anniversaries after anniversaries of cases,” it directed both agencies to speed up their probe. The bench has also directed both agencies to submit a status report on their probe by May 1.
In March this year, the SIT had filed an application in the high court seeking Gaikwad’s trial be stayed and it be permitted to carry out “further investigations in the Pansare case because it was yet to get an independent opinion on the ballistic report. The state of Maharashtra and Karnataka CID had given different opinions on the ballistic report and thus, an independent .pinion was being sought.”