'Is there a common thread in killings of activists?'

'Is there a common thread in killings of activists?'

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the CBI to find out if there was a "common thread" in the murder cases of Communist leader Govind Pansare and rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in Maharashtra, and Kannada writer M M Kalburgi and journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh in Karnataka.

"If there is a common thread or some common link, it would be in fitness of things, that one investigating agency probes all these cases," a bench of Justices U U Lalit and Navin Sinha said.

The court further said, there appears to be four deaths. There are two school of thoughts. One is – these four cases are completely unconnected, if so, then the state police can go on investigating the matters.

The top court also took into record as assertion by Karnataka's Additional Advocate General Devadatt Kamath and a status report indicating there is some link between the murder cases of Kalburgi (on August 30, 2015) and Gauri Lankesh (on September 5, 2017).

Maharashtra state counsel Nishant R Katneshwarkar submitted that two petitions were filed in the Bombay High Court with regard to killing of Dabholkar (on August 20, 2013) and Pansare (on February 20, 2015).

"The CBI is handling Dabholkar case on a direction by the high court, after it was found the state police filed a fake ballistic report and arrested two persons" the top court was informed.

It was also stated that a Maharashtra SIT was investigating the Pansare case.

"Both Dabholkar and Pansare's cases are monitored by the high court," it was stated.

In Dabholkar's case, the CBI had already filed a charge sheet in a Pune court. In case of Pansare, five people have been arrested and the matter was pending before a court in Kolhapur.

After a brief hearing, the court asked the CBI counsel to take an instruction if there is a common link, and respond. It posted the matter, arising out of a petition filed by Uma Devi Kalburgi, for consideration in the first week of January, 2019.

Umadevi, in her plea, drew parallels between Kalburgi's murder and the killings of Dabholkar and Comrade Pansare in Maharashtra and sought an SIT probe by a retired SC judge or a high court judge. She urged the top court to monitor the probe till it reached its logical conclusion.