‘Do Not Expect Court Orders to Investigate Murders’: Bombay HC on Pansare and Dabholkar Murder Probe

Written by SabrangIndia | Published on: April 27, 2019
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court (HC), on Friday, came down heavily on the Maharashtra government for its snail-paced investigation into the cold-blooded murders of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. Applauding the expeditious enquiry into the Gauri Lankesh murder case, the judges said that the state authorities should learn a lesson from it.

pansare and Dhabolker

While hearing the petitions filed by the family members of Dabholkar and Pansare, seeking court supervision into probes conducted by central and state agencies, a division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice B P Colabawalla said, “The government of Maharashtra must realise that when a crime of this nature was committed in the adjoining state, namely, in the state of Karnataka (murder of Gauri Lankesh), the functionaries and the officials in-charge of machinery of law and order in that state acted swiftly and without any intervention of the court.”

It went on to say that after the murder of journalist-turned-activist Gauri Lankesh, nobody had filed a petition in the court; instead the authorities suo-motu took action. Whereas here the family members had to plead to the court for its intervention.

Further expressing its displeasure over the laidback response by the state, the judges said that they do not want the Maharashtra government to expect court orders to investigate murders. “Bureaucrats at the helm of affairs have to show people how they deal with such attacks,” the bench directed.

The court has directed the chief secretary of the state to conduct meetings with the additional chief secretary, home, and principal secretary of finance along with Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Special Investigation Team (SIT) officers and decide what assistance should be provided to the investigating agencies in the probe. It further directed the state to provide ground-level assistance if the CBI proposes to carry out any major operation.

The CBI SIT is investigating the Dabholkar murder and the state CID is probing the Pansare murder. Last year, the CBI had claimed to have arrested two men who allegedly shot Dabholkar.
 
The CID arrested a total of seven people in the Pansare murder case. According to the CBI, some of the accused in the Dabholkar, Pansare and Lankesh murders were linked to each other.
 
The court then expressed concern over the intervention of political parties in the rationalists’ murder probes and said, “All political parties, those who are in power now and in future, should ensure that no outfit or person involved in such attacks is spared.”

“No one should attempt to silence any voice of dissent. That should be our endeavour. We expect all political parties and their bosses to show maturity and not create obstacles in the investigation,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.

Even in March, the Maharashtra state had drawn flak from the Bombay HC in the Pansare murder case where it said that the state had become a ‘laughing stock’ after reading the SIT report. The bench said, “Let the state feel some pressure. It must face consequences some day. For most often, the police get away. No memos are issued, no explanations sought.”

Narendra Dabholkar, the founder of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, was murdered in 2013 for his work against the superstitious beliefs. Govind Pansare, a politician from the CPI, was known for his rationalism and for his book ‘Who was Shivaji’ which was an attempt against the appropriation of the Maratha king by right wing forces. He also ran an organisation that encouraged inter-caste marriages. He was killed in 2015.

The investigations have shown that the possibility of the same set of people having been involved in an attempt to silence the anti-Hindutva, rational and secular voices in the country through these assassinations is no longer a mere speculation.

Such barbaric and inhuman acts are an extreme way to kill the voices of those who dared to put forth their opinions and raise their voices against the injustice meted out on people in the name of religion and customs. It's time that the authorities pull up their socks and get a hold of the anti-democratic forces plaguing our nation.


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