Mumbai: Unhappy with the delay, the Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the CBI and Maharashtra SIT to complete their probes soon into the killing rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and communist leader Govind Pansare and asked the central agency to arrest a suspect within 10 days.
The division bench asked the agencies to obtain within eight weeks the reports of forensic science laboratory of Scotland Yard on evidence in the murder cases of Dabholkar, Pansare and scholar MM Kalburgi as it felt that enough time had been lost in obtaining the opinion of a foreign lab.
"If the investigations do not conclude fast, it might give an impression to the people at large that you do not want to arrest certain people," said Justice SC Dharmadhikari, who headed the bench.
"These are very sensitive cases in which well-known social workers and activists have been killed," he said, adding the agency should complete probe in a reasonable timeframe.
During the investigation, the CBI had noticed a pattern in the killings which indicated that the same group might have been involved as the weapons used in the crime were similar. Hence, the agency had sent bullets and empty cartridges it recovered for forensic analysis.
The CBI, probing the Dabholkar killing, and Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Maharashtra, investigating the Pansare's killing, today submitted fresh reports on the probe in a sealed cover which were perused by both the judges.
The bench noted that the CBI report had talked about a suspect in Dabholkar murder case. In this regard, Justice Dharmadhikari asked the CBI to arrest the suspect within ten days.
The court also asked the Ministry of External Affairs and the Union Home Ministry to coordinate with other departments to ensure that all permissions are in place for CBI to obtain expeditiously the forensic reports from Scotland Yard so that they can be presented before it.
The bench was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by the families of Dabholkar and Pansare seeking monitoring of probes in both the cases by the high court.
Dabholkar was killed in Pune on August 20, 2013, while Pansare was shot on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur. He succumbed to his injuries four days later. Kalburgi was shot dead on August 30 last year at his residence in Dharwad district of Karnataka by two unidentified men.
The CBI and CID have been submitting periodical progress reports of their probe to the HC.
Justice Dharmadhikari said that in Pansare killing case, the investigation agency (SIT) had been repeatedly saying that the probe would end in near future. "There should be a time frame and investigations should end in a reasonable period," he said, adding the probed should be brought to their logical end.
When Abhay Nevadi, lawyer for Pansare and Dabholkar families, said he had received a letter from Maharashtra Chief Minister about their intention to hand over the probe to CBI, Justice Dharmadhikari made it clear that no changes would be made in the investigation team without the permission of the high court, as it was monitoring the probe.
The judge said that for the time being, the SIT would continue to probe the case and no changes would be made by the authorities.
Advocate Nevadi also said that if CBI takes the time to get forensic reports from Scotland Yard, they can take opinion from an Army laboratory in Chandigarh, which is equally good.
The bench asked him to file an affidavit on these lines and added that it might consider sending evidence to Chandigarh lab if the reports from Scotland Yard were not forthcoming or were not conclusive.
Right wing activist Sameer Gaikwad, an alleged member of Hindu radical outfit Sanatan Sanstha, was arrested by Kolhapur Police on September 16 last year in connection with Pansare's murder.
Besides, another Sanatan Sanstha activist Virendra Tawde was arrested by the CBI from Panvel in Navi Mumbai in June this year in connection with Dabholkar's murder.