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Govind Pansare murder case: Slow pace of probe making you a laughing stock, Bombay HC tells Maharashtra govt

The Bombay high court, not for the first time in the past few months, pulled up the state government and investigating agencies on Thursday for the slow pace of their probe into the 2015 murder of rationalist Govind Pansare in Kolhapur.

mumbai Updated: Mar 15, 2019 10:09 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Mumbai
Rationalist Govind Pansare was shot dead in 2015. The killers are still absconding.
Rationalist Govind Pansare was shot dead in 2015. The killers are still absconding. (File Photo)
         

The Bombay high court, not for the first time in the past few months, pulled up the state government and investigating agencies on Thursday for the slow pace of their probe into the 2015 murder of rationalist Govind Pansare in Kolhapur.

The state has been reduced to a “laughing stock”, the court said, summoning the home department’s additional chief secretary on March 28 to explain what was causing the delay. A bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice BP Colabawalla was hearing petitions filed by families of Pansare and Dr Narendra Dabholkar, another rationalist who was shot dead in a similar manner in Pune on August 20, 2013.

The judges were irked after reading a progress report submitted by Maharashtra CID’s special investigation team (SIT) in the Pansare case. The SIT is looking into Pansare’s case, while the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing the killing of Dabholkar.

“Let the state feel some pressure... most often, the police gets away,” said the bench, after reading SIT’s report. “If crimes will be probed only after court’s intervention...if, in matter after matter, judiciary is the only saviour, then it is a tragedy,” they said. “What message are we sending to the society?” they said.

In its progress report, the SIT said it had questioned the relatives of the two people accused of shooting Pansare. Both the accused are yet to be traced.

The report also said officers went to places where the accused own immoveable property. To this point, the court asked, “What stops them from going and hiding anywhere across the country? Merely because someone owns a property, doesn’t mean he will stick around in that area... the elementary steps you are taking to nab the accused have reduced you to a laughing stock.”

The judges said the pace of the probe was giving the public a perception that “some people can get away, remain uninvestigated only because they enjoy a certain patronage”. The state can’t be a “silent spectator”, they said. “This is not a movie that you (police, probe agencies) come after everything is over. And if you (politicians) can’t protect your people, then do not contest elections,” the bench said. “The investigation machinery appears to be acting only at intervals and only when demanded by this court.”

The CBI had done its job in the Dabholkar murder case, additional solicitor general Anil Singh told the bench on Thursday. It had identified and arrested the killers, and even filed the supplementary charge sheet against them, Singh said. But, the judges rapped the CBI for failing to track down the weapon used to kill Dabholkar. “The search of the corroborating material (weapons used in the crime) must end somewhere. It can’t go on and on,” the judges said.The bench directed the CBI to “tie-up all lose ends” in the investigation into the Dabholkar murder.

Apart from the murders of Dabholkar and Pansare, two other people — Bengaluru journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh (killed on September 5, 2017) and renowned epigraphist from Karnataka, MM Kalburgi (August 30, 2015) — were also shot dead in the same way. Investigators believe the same group may be involved in all four murders.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Mar 15, 2019 01:59 IST

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