Can’t help in Dabholkar, Pansare cases, Scotland Yard tells CBI

U.K. investigative agency says no pact with India on forensic data; HC rebukes probe agencies again

Published - January 21, 2017 12:35 am IST

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday said it was “very unhappy” with the progress in the Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare murder cases. In another blow to the investigation, the CBI informed the court that U.K.’s legendary investigative agency, Scotland Yard, has refused to help in the forensic probe citing the lack of a pact between the U.K. and India for sharing such data.

The CBI also submitted, in a sealed cover, a report from the Forensic Science Laboratory, Ahmedabad on ballistic evidence related to the killing of the three rationalists, including M.M. Kalburgi in Karnataka. This is the third such report submitted in court; the previous reports were by forensic labs in Mumbai and Bengaluru.

As the Mumbai and Bengaluru forensic labs had given conflicting opinions, the investigating agency wanted a third opinion and sent evidence to the Ahmedabad forensic lab, whose report was submitted to the court.

Separate reports in sealed covers on the progress in investigations were submited by the CBI, which is probing the Dabholkar murder, and Maharashtra CID’s special investigation team (SIT) investigating Pansare’s killing.

A bench of Justices S.C. Dharmadhikari and B.P. Colabawalla observed that it was “very unhappy” over the tardy progress in the investigations, and also noted that there was no development in the proceedings in courts in Pune and Kolhapur, which are hearing the Dabholkar and Pansare cases respectively.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh told the bench, which was hearing petitions filed by the families of Dabholkar and Pansare, that “Scotland Yard has informed us in writing that no legal agreement existed between the two countries on sharing of forensic data and hence it will not help by conducting a forensic probe into these murder cases.” The CBI had earlier told the court that forensic evidence was sent to Scotland Yard to seek its opinion on whether the same weapons were used in all three killings.

The judges perused the reports and cautioned the probe agencies against revealing the contents to anyone, including the media, as the investigations are still on. SIT counsel Ashok Mundargi said, “We have identified two absconding suspects in the Pansare murder case. The charge sheet has been filed and we are investigating further.”

On a plea made by the two agencies seeking eight weeks to investigate further, the bench deferred the matter till March 20. While Dabholkar was murdered in Pune on August 20, 2013, Pansare was shot on February 16, 2015 in Kolhapur. He died on February 20. Prof. Kalburgi was killed on August 30, 2015. Last month too, the High Court had come down heavily on the CBI for the inordinate delay in its investigation, and said it was “bungling” the probe.

Virendra Tawde, an alleged member of right wing group Sanatan Sanstha, was arrested on June 10 last year by CBI in the Dabholkar case. He was also arraigned as an accused by the CID in the Pansare case.

Another member of the Sanstha, Samir Gaikwad, was arrested by the SIT in connection with the Pansare murder in September 2015. The families of Dabholkar and Pansare again voiced their unhappiness over the “lack of progress” in the cases. After the hearing concluded, Dabholkar’s son Hamid and daughter Mukta distributed pamphlets outside the court seeking the accused’s arrest.

Megha Pansare, daughter-in-law of Govind Pansare, staged a silent demonstration demanding the accused be arrested. “The investigation agencies are very slow and the contents of forensic reports always reach the media first,” their lawyer Abhay Nevgi said. On an earlier occasion, the bench had noted that the delay caused by the probe agency would not only benefit the accused but would also give a bad impression to society at large.

Earlier this year, the State CID had filed a petition in the HC seeking a stay on the trial till a forensic report from the Scotland Yard police laboratory was obtained. The CID petition had sought a stay from the high court on framing of charges against Gaikwad, which was granted. — PTI

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