The Bombay High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the CBI on a PIL urging probe by an independent agency into murder of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar to find out whether Hindu right-wing activists were involved in the crime.
A division bench headed by Justice PV Hardas also allowed petitioner Ketan Tirodkar to amend his petition to include CBI as a respondent instead of National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Dabholkar, who spearheaded the anti-superstition movement in Maharashtra, was shot dead in Pune on August 20 last year. The police are still clueless about identity of the culprits.
The petitioner today urged that he wanted to amend the PIL to include CBI as a respondent. He said NIA had restricted jurisdiction as it was involved only in cases of terror, while CBI had wider powers as it probed serious crimes.
Tirodkar argued that the High Court had earlier handed over important murder cases to CBI such as the killing of RTI activist Satish Shetty and builder Amit Rane, both from Pune.
Earlier, Pune police had informed the court that there was no evidence suggesting the involvement of right-wing extremists in the killing of Dabholkar. Police also said the deceased was not facing any threat and so there was no question of police preparing a perception report (prior to the murder) and monitoring his activities.
More importantly, the contention that it was handiwork of right-wing extremists was based only on presumptions or petitioner’s own imagination which is not supported by any factual evidence, Rajendra Bhamare, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Pune Crime Branch, had said in an affidavit filed before the court.
On the last occasion, police had handed over to the bench two reports on investigations conducted so far.
Denying that his Pune team was under pressure from any political quarters, ACP Bhamare had opposed transfer of probe to NIA as the offence did not fall in the purview of NIA Act.
NIA too had taken a similar stand when it told the court earlier that it cannot probe Dabholkar’s murder as the offence fell under Indian Penal Code and was not covered by NIA Act.