The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Maharashtra government to file a progress report on the investigation into senior journalist J. Dey's murder case on June 21.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by advocate V.P. Patil and a petition by the former journalist, Ketan Tirodkar. Two journalists' bodies, the Mumbai Press Club and the Marathi Patrakar Parishad have intervened in the PIL.

All the petitioners have demanded an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation on various grounds.

Public prosecutor Pandurang Pol told a Division Bench of Justices Ranjana Desai and R.V. More that it was “too premature” to reply on the demand for a CBI probe.

“This case is with the local Crime Branch under the Commissioner of Police. The investigation is proceeding in the right direction. It is too premature to say anything,” he said.

Advocate Navroz Seervai, representing the journalists, said, “J. Dey and others have been writing about the unholy nexus among the police, the mafia and even the corporates. We had made a representation to the Chief Minister asking him to transfer the case to the CBI. Nothing has been done.”

Mr. Patil said it was his “urgent prayer” that the probe be handed over to the CBI. Else, just like “fake encounters” the matter would be a case of “fake investigation,” he remarked.

Mr. Tirodkar told the court that a former Additional Commissioner of Police first exposed the police-underworld nexus by confiscating the mobile phones of Crime Branch officials. “The officer was transferred,” he said.

Later, Home Minister R.R. Patil told journalists that as per the court's directions the State would be filing its reply by Tuesday.

“We will give information about the investigation,” he said.

Asked about the demand for a CBI probe, he said: “The police are moving in the right direction. We will comment on the government's stand later. All the necessary directions have been given to the police.”

Backing the creation of a special law for journalists, he said such a law would create a deterrent and would help the police too. The Chief Minister decided to form a panel of Ministers to study provisions of this law. The final decision would be taken by the Cabinet, he said.

The Patrakar Halla Virodhi Kruti Samiti (committee against attacks on journalists) had considered boycotting the briefings of the Home Minister and the Chief Minister. However, the committee's convenor S.M. Deshmukh said the idea was part of a discussion, but no decision was taken on it.