'Dabholkar, Pansare cases not carried out sincerely'

Bombay High Court. File photo

The Bombay High Court today rapped the investigators of the Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare killings saying their probe was "unsatisfactory" and "not carried out sincerely" and summoned senior officials of the CBI and the Maharashtra government.

A bench of justices S C Dharamadhikari and Bharati Dangre directed that joint director of the CBI and additional chief secretary of the Maharashtra government remain present in court on July 12.

The direction came after the court observed that progress reports submitted today by the CBI and the state CID into the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare, respectively, were "unsatisfactory".

Despite claims made by the two agencies of keeping a watch on people and establishments in the state connected to some "extremist" organisations, the Karnataka Police had arrested an alleged accused in the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh from Maharashtra, it noted.

"The CBI and the CID have been maintaining that they are coordinating with the Karnataka Police that is probing the killings of writer M M Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh," it said.

"They have also been claiming that they are keeping a watch on certain 'sansthas' or organisations. Then how did the Karnataka authorities manage to make an arrest from Maharashtra," the bench asked.

Earlier this month, a Special Investigation Team of the Karnataka Police had arrested Parshuram Waghmare from Maharashtra for allegedly killing Lankesh.

This prompted the court to ask if authorities in Maharashtra and those probing the Dabholkar and Pansare killings weren't as prompt as their counterparts in Karnataka.

"Is there a lack of coordination, or are the authorities before us restricting their probe to merely pursuing mobile phone records," the court asked.

The same degree of seriousness and promptness as shown prima facie by the Karnataka authorities needs to be adopted by the Maharashtra CID and the CBI, it said.

"Mere status reports do not satisfy us. Nor can we accept their statement that they have reached a dead end," the judges said.

"We don't take any pleasure in summoning these senior police officers. But the concerns that this court has raised in the previous hearings haven't been assuaged," they said.

The investigations into the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare "haven't been carried out sincerely". Therefore, it becomes the duty of this writ court to step in cases as serious as those at hand, the bench said.

The court was hearing pleas filed by the family members of Dabholkar and Pansare seeking that the court monitors the probes in both the cases.

Dabholkar was shot dead on August 20, 2013, in Pune while on his morning walk.

Pansare was shot at on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur and succumbed to his injuries on February 20 that year.

Today, Dabholkar's daughter Mukta submitted an affidavit in the high court seeking that authorities be directed to deploy a dedicated team of officials to probe into the two killings.

She stated in the affidavit that the state CID and the CBI had earlier said the same weapon was used to kill Pansare and Kalburgi.

And now, the Karnataka authorities said there was a connection between the killings of Kalburgi and Lankesh. Therefore, it was apparent that the above cases were linked and required more coordination among all probe agencies concerned, she mentioned in the affidavit.

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