Mumbai: Saying that the investigating agency
must protect witnesses in the cases where influential persons
are involved, Bombay High Court on Friday asked CBI to contact
witnesses in the Pawanraje Nimbalkar murder case, in which
Member of Parliament Padamsinh Patil is the main accused, and
find out if they were being threatened.
Justice RC Chavan was hearing the application filed by
Nimbalkar`s widow, Anandibai, seeking transfer of the trial
from a sessions court in neighbouring Alibag to Mumbai,
alleging that the witnesses were being threatened.
So far 12 witnesses have turned hostile during the trial.
"Transferring the trial from Alibag to Mumbai is not
going to make any difference. It would just delay the trial.
In cases like this, where the opposite side is very powerful,
the investigating agency has to protect the witnesses and see
to it that they don`t turn hostile," Justice Chavan said.
The judge directed CBI to contact the witnesses and find
out what threat they were facing (if any) and give them
protection. The agency has been asked to file reply next week.
Anandibai`s application is with the petition filed by CBI
in the High Court, seeking cancellation of bail granted to
Padamsinh Patil, a former state minister.
Earlier, CBI too had filed an affidavit alleging that
Padamsinh was using his influence to pressurise witnesses.
"The witnesses have gone back on earlier statements to
the CBI because of the pressure tactics adopted by the
respondent, who is a sitting MP from Osmanabad," CBI had said.
Patil, then with NCP, was arrested in June 2009 and
granted bail in September the same year. The trial started in
July last year and the prosecution has examined 20 witnesses
According to the CBI, Patil had Nimbalkar killed out of
political rivalry. Nimbalkar, a Congress leader, and his
driver were shot dead on June 3, 2006 at Kalamboli in Navi
Mumbai, allegedly by the shooters hired by Patil.