MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday expressed reservations after the state said it has no objection to the transfer of the probe into the February 2015 killing of CPI leader Govind Pansare to the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) and batted for continuity in investigation.
A special investigation team (SIT) of the state police has been probing the murder under the HC’s monitoring. Pansare was shot on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur and died four days later.
“What is going to be achieved by having a different team?” asked Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Sharmila Deshmukh, adding that an ATS officer could join the SIT instead to avoid further delay as a new team would take time to understand the complexities of the case. “Ultimately, it is part of Maharashtra police. Not that we are asking (to take officers) from CBI,’’ said Justice Mohite-Dere.
Special public prosecutor Ashok Mundargi, for SIT, said he will take instruction and inform on Wednesday. The Pansare family lawyer agreed.
Earlier, responding to the Pansare family’s plea to transfer the probe to ATS as there has not been any headway, Mundargi said: “The prayer is for transfer to ATS. We have no objection.” He pointed out the ATS is also a state agency.
The judges said “there are already competent (SIT) officers” looking into the case. Mundargi added the state is also willing to change the entire SIT team. “Let them have a fresh look (into the case).”
Asked what happens to the trial, Mundargi replied that it is kept for framing of charges in September. “We are ready for trial. We have no issue sending the matter for further investigation to ATS.”
Advocate Abhay Nevagi, for Pansare’s family, pointed out ATS made a breakthrough in the Nallasopara arms haul case. Disclosures by the accused showed links between the killings of Pansare, rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, writer M M Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh in Karnataka. He said two shooters --- Sharad Kalaskar and Sachin Andure --- in the Dabholkar case were named witnesses in Pansare’s case. Kalaskar named Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar, who are absconding, as Pansare’s assassins. “We feel ATS is the appropriate agency to take it to a logical conclusion. ATS can make a difference,’’ said Nevagi.
The judges said there has to be some line of investigation. “It is also our case that there is a common thread between the cases,’’ said Mundargi. Not only the SIT, but all agencies, including NIA and CBI, are after Akolkar and Pawar. “Some 30-35 teams are trying to locate and nab these persons. As of today, we (SIT) have not succeeded,’’ admitted Mundargi.