India's image today is that of a country of crimes

Bombay High Court made the observation amid nation-wide outrage over the Kathua rape cum murder and the Unnao rape cases.

The observation was made amid a nation-wide outrage over the Kathua rape cum murder and the Unnao rape cases. (Reuters file photo)

India's image today has taken a beating with a growing perception abroad that it's a country of crimes and rapes and that liberal and secular people are not safe here, the Bombay High Court observed on Thursday.

The observation was made amid a nation-wide outrage over the Kathua rape cum murder and the Unnao rape cases.

A bench of Justices S C Dharamadhikari and Bharati Dangre went on to say that the rest of the world is now hesitant to engage with India over educational or cultural issues due to the current state of affairs here.

The bench made these observations while hearing pleas by the kin of slain rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and communist leader Govind Pansare. They had sought a court-monitored probe into the killings.

"It is unfortunate that today, the image of the country is such that those living abroad feel only crimes and rapes happen in India.

"Anywhere we go (outside India), we have to answer a barrage of questions. People are under the impression that liberal, open-minded and secular people cannot be safe in India and that they are bound to be attacked. The image of India is suffering due to the acts of a few people," the bench said.

Senior counsel Ashok Mundargi, the lawyer for Maharashtra CID (Crime Investigation Department) probing the killing of Pansare, told the high court that there was little hope now of achieving anything substantial from any further field probe.

"Field probe including raids at possible hiding places will not lead to anything anymore. Our only hope is scientific probe and evidence from call detail records, forensics etc," Mundargi said.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing the CBI probing Dabholkar's killing, echoed the same view.

"How do we then take the case to its logical conclusion?" the bench asked.

"Can we allow for the case to reach a dead-end when similar crimes are on the rise?" it asked.

The bench said while it was not critical so far of the ongoing probes by the two agencies, it could not allow them to leave everything to the mere hope that the absconding accused people in the two cases, tired of hiding or fearing threat to their lives, would turn themselves in one day.

"Why don't you take steps to completely strangulate the organisational backing that the accused persons must be receiving?" the bench asked.

It also directed the agencies to seek the help of expert interrogators in the case.

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

A high court bench had last year observed that the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare were "well planned" and the perpetrators had an organisational backup.

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