The Bombay High Court on Thursday told investigation teams looking into the murders of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare not to depend on information from the inquiry into Gauri Lankesh’s murder, PTI reported. The court asked the Central Bureau of Investigation and Maharashtra’s Crime Investigation Department to conduct independent investigations into the two cases.
Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune on August 2013, and Pansare, a Communist Party of India leader, was killed in Kolhapur in February 2015. The CBI is looking into Dabholkar’s murder, and a special team constituted by the CID is investigating Pansare’s death. Journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh was murdered outside her home in Bengaluru in September 2017. The CBI told a Pune court in August 2018 that the murders of Dabholkar and Lankesh were linked.
The Special Investigation Team said in its progress report on Thursday that it was questioning the accused arrested from Karnataka in connection with the Lankesh case. The bench noted that the CBI and SIT had said in the previous meetings too that they were questioning those arrested by Karnataka authorities.
“But the report [SIT’s progress report] doesn’t reveal what the actual measures you are taking to arrest the absconding accused,” the bench said. “You cannot rely completely on the revelations made by the accused in another case. How long will this go on? You have to conduct an independent probe, gather some independent material, especially since these crimes in Maharashtra [killings of Pansare and Dabholkar] took place before the crime in Karnataka,” the bench said.
A bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and MS Karnik asked the agencies to make a “sincere effort” towards tracking the absconding accused in the Pansare and Dabholkar murder cases. The investigating agencies in Maharashtra had made less progress than the ones in Karnataka, especially due to bureaucratic hassles and lack of coordination, the bench commented.
“The unfortunate part is that in one state the machinery gets full assistance, while in our state, either the machinery is not working or not getting cooperation,” the judges added.
The CBI argued that its officers were doing their best to trace the accused. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the CBI, said the probe authorities in Maharashtra worked “better than anyone else”.
The bench has directed both CBI and the CID to submit their progress reports by February 16.