The Central Bureau of Investigation on Saturday told a special court in Pune, Maharashtra, that a lawyer and his assistant arrested in connection with the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in 2013 were not cooperating with investigators, PTI reported.
Additional Sessions Court judge AV Rotte extended the remand of advocate Sanjeev Punalekar and Vikram Bhave, who is a member of Hindutva outfit Sanatan Sanstha, till June 4. Punalekar, who is reportedly an office-bearer of the Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad, had represented some of the accused in the case.
Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Suryawanshi alleged Punalekar “crossed his limits by advising one of the shooters to destroy the weapon”. The gunman he was referring to is Sharad Kalaskar, who is also suspected of being involved in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh. The prosecutor told the court that forensic psychology analysis and forensic statement analysis tests have been conducted on Punalekar, and the results are not yet out.
The agency said the vehicle used to assassinate Dabholkar had not been recovered as he was not cooperating as Bhave, a convict in the 2008 Thane bomb blast case, was not cooperating.
Punalekar’s counsel Subhash Jha said even if the communication between Kalaskar and Punalekar was assumed to be true, it was “privileged communication” between a lawyer and his client, ANI reported. “A confession statement given by Kalaskar to Karnataka Police in some other case cannot be a base to arrest my client in the present case,” Jha added.
Bhave’s lawyer Ghanshyam Upadhyay questioned the CBI progress report, and argued that the investigation agency had not submitted any incriminating evidence against his client since his arrest on May 25. “There is no development in the case and now to get the further custody, the CBI is citing reasons that the accused is not cooperating,” said Upadhyay.
So far, six people, including Sanatan Sanstha member and ENT surgeon Virendrasinh Tawde, and suspected shooters Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, have been arrested in the case.