Scotland Yard says can't help in Dabholkar, Pansare cases; HC rebukes CBI

Scotland Yard says can't help in Dabholkar, Pansare cases; HC rebukes CBI

The Bombay High Court today said it was "very unhappy" over the pace of progress in Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare murder cases even as the CBI informed the court that Scotland Yard has refused to help in the forensic probe on the ground that there was no pact between the UK and India for sharing such data.

Today, CBI also submitted, in a sealed cover, a report from Ahmedabad Forensic Laboratory on ballistic evidence related to the killing of the three rationalists, including M M Kalburgi in Karnataka, the third such report, the other two being those of Mumbai and Bengaluru labs.

CBI, probing Dabholkar's murder, and the SIT of state CID, investigating killing of Pansare, also submitted separate reports in sealed covers to the court on the progress made in these two cases.

A bench of justices S C Dharmadhikari and B P Colabawalla observed that it was "very unhappy" over the tardy progress in investigation, and also noted there was no development in the proceedings in courts in Pune and Kolhapur, trying Dabholkar and Pansare murder cases respectively.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh told the bench, hearing petitions filed by the families of the two slain rationalists, that, "Scotland Yard has informed us in writing that no legal agreement existed between the two countries on sharing of forensic data and hence it will not help by conducting a forensic probe into these murder cases."

The CBI had earlier told the court that forensic evidence was sent to Scotland Yard to seek its opinion if same weapons were used in the murders of Dabholkar and Pansare in Maharashtra and Kalburgi in Karnataka.

The judges perused the reports and cautioned the probe agencies against revealing the contents to anyone, including media, as the investigations are still on.

SIT counsel Ashok Mundargi said, "The probe in Pansare killing is on. We have identified two absconding suspects. The charge sheet has been filed and we are investigating further."

On a plea made by the two agencies seeking eight weeks time to conduct further probe, the bench deferred the matter till March 20.

While Dabholkar was murdered in Pune on August 20, 2013, Pansare was shot on February 16, 2015 in Kolhapur. He died on February 20 that year. Prof Kalburgi was murdered on August 30, 2015.

Last month also, the High Court had come down heavily on CBI for inordinate delay in the investigation and said it was "bungling up" the probe.

Virendra Tawde, an alleged member of right wing group Sanathan Sanstha was arrested on June 10 last year by CBI in the Dabholkar case. He was also arraigned as accused by CID in the Pansare case.

Another member of the Sanstha, Samir Gaikwad, was arrested by the SIT in connection with the Pansare murder case in September 2015.

The family members of Dabholkar and Pansare also again voiced their unhappiness over the "lack of progress" in probe in the cases.

After the hearing concluded, Dabholkar's son Hamid and daughter Mukta distributed pamphlets outside the court seeking arrest of the accused.

Megha Pansare, daughter-in-law of Pansare, staged a silent demonstration demanding arrest of the accused. "The investigation agencies are very slow and the contents of forensic reports always reach the media first," their lawyer Abhay Nevgi said.

On an earlier occasion, the bench had noted that delay caused by the probe agency would not only benefit the accused but would also give a bad impression to the society at large.

As Mumbai and Bengaluru forensic labs had given conflicting opinions, the investigating agency wanted a third opinion. Hence, it sent evidence to Ahmedabad forensic lab, whose report was today submitted to the court.

The state CID, probing the Pansare murder case, had earlier this year filed a petition in the high court seeking stay on the trial till a forensic report from Scotland Yard Police laboratory was obtained.

The CID petition had sought a stay from the high court on framing of charges against Gaikwad. The HC had then granted the stay.

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