Inform us before handing over Pansare murder probe to CBI: Bombay HC

The Maharashtra government will have to inform the Bombay high court in advance if it decides to transfer the murder case of rationalist and CPI leader Govind Pansare to the CBI.
The government will also have to spell out the reasons for handing over the probe, the court said Thursday, as it questioned the slow pace of investigation in the murder that was widely condemned as an attempt to silence those challenging rigid religious practices and order.
The court was responding to a plea filed by the families of Pansare and another rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, calling for court-monitored probe in both the murders.
The CBI is investigating Dabholkar’s murder and has arrested an alleged member of a right-wing Hindu outfit. Its probe has revealed that same weapon – a 7.65mm firearm – was used in both the killings, carried out 18 months apart.
With the CBI zeroing in on the Sanatan Sanstha as the prime suspect in the Dabholkar case, they had met with the state government that had agreed to transfer Pansare’s murder case to the CBI, the petitioners said.
The state’s counsel, however, told the court that the government was yet to arrive at a decision.
The court asked the state why was it even considering the matter when its earlier order required both the state CID, which is probing the Pansare murder, and the CBI to coordinate with each other.
“Are both agencies not coordinating? Or is the state only too relieved to get rid of the case since it has made hardly any progress,” the court said.
“The family saw that the CBI has identified an organisation and they themselves have always suspected this organisation so they approached the state. But what was the state doing till now. Did you not know that this organisation could have been involved? Why did you not take any steps?”
Both the CBI and the state CID had only “dragged their feet in the matter” and it was “not satisfied” with their progress, the court said, directing both the agencies to take some concrete steps in the next six weeks when the case comes up for hearing.
Two bike-borne assailants shot at Pansare and wife Uma when they were returning home from a morning walk in Kolhapur on February 16, 2015. Uma survived the attack but Pansare died of his injuries four days later. Dabholkar, an anti-superstition campaigner, was shot dead in Pune in August 2013.
On June 11, the CBI arrested Virendra Tawade, the alleged chief of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, an affiliate of Sanatan Sanstha, for plotting Dabholkar’s murder.

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