The Bombay High Court on Thursday lashed out at the Maharashtra government over its investigation of rationalist Govind Pansare’s murder, PTI reported. The court said the state government has been reduced to a “laughing stock” after reading a report submitted by the Special Investigation Team probing the killing.

Govind Pansare was attacked by two unidentified gunmen on his way home from a morning walk in Kolhapur, on February 16, 2015. He died of bullet wounds four days later, on February 20. His wife Uma, who was shot at in the skull, survived the attack but now suffers from paralysis.

“Let the state feel some pressure,” a bench of High Court Justices SC Dharamadhikari and BP Colabawalla said on Thursday. “It must face consequences some day. For most often, the police get away. No memos are issued, no explanations sought.”

The court has summoned Maharashtra Home Department’s Additional Chief Secretary Sunil Porwal on March 28 to explain the slow progress made in the case. “If crimes will be probed only after the court’s intervention...If in matter after matter, judiciary is the only saviour, then it is a tragedy,” the court observed.

The investigation team submitted in court that it had questioned the relatives of two accused in the case. The team also told the court in its submission that one of the accused owned immovable property in Maharashtra, and it had visited this property to find out about his whereabouts.

But the court said that the accused is unlikely to stay in the state four years after the crime. “The accused can seek shelter anywhere in the country,” the court said. “The elementary steps you are taking to nab the accused have reduced you to a laughing stock. Because of you, the public has a perception that some people can get away, remain uninvestigated only because they enjoy a certain patronage.”

The bench said that if politicians cannot protect the people, they should not contest elections. It also directed the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the Narendra Dabholkar murder, to “tie up all loose ends” in the case.

In January, the Bombay High Court told the CBI and Criminal Investigation Department not to depend on information from the inquiry into journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder, to probe the Dabholkar and Pansare killings. Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune in August 2013. Lankesh was killed outside her home in Bengaluru in September 2017.