The Bombay High Court on Monday refused to direct a lower court to examine social activist Anna Hazare as a prosecution witness in the 2006 murder case of Congress leader Pawanraje Nimbalkar, saying it has not found anything to show that Hazare’s evidence would be useful to the case.
Justice Mridula Bhatkar dismissed an application filed by Nimbalkar’s widow Anandidevi challenging an April 12 order passed by the sessions court exempting Hazare from being examined as a prosecution witness in the case.
The application claimed that Hazare was an important witness as he was aware of the conspiracy hatched by the prime accused and former state minister Padamsinh Patil to kill Nimbalkar. The application alleged that Patil had also conspired to kill Hazare.
Justice Bhatkar on Monday said Hazare’s evidence was only hearsay and that it was not direct evidence of the alleged conspiracy.
“There is nothing on record to show that Hazare had direct knowledge of the conspiracy. There is no direct evidence. This court does not find anything to show that Hazare’s evidence would be useful to this case,” Justice Bhatkar said.
“He (Hazare) does not seem like a necessary witness,” Justice Bhatkar said, adding she does not find any reason to order that Hazare be examined as a prosecution witness in the case.
The court said the claim that a conspiracy was hatched to murder Hazare does not form part of the charges framed by the trial court against Patil and the other accused.
“Regarding Hazare being threatened in 2002 allegedly by Patil and other accused is a separate offence. There is no relation to this case,” Justice Bhatkar said.
In the trial court, the CBI had filed an application seeking permission to include Hazare as a prosecution witness and for his evidence to be recorded.
The CBI claimed that Hazare, who was also threatened by Patil, was a prime witness who could prove the motive behind the crime.
Patil has been accused of hatching a conspiracy to murder Nimbalkar due to political rivalry. Patil allegedly hired killers for Rs 30 lakh to eliminate Nimbalkar, who, along with his driver, was shot dead on June 3, 2006 at Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai. Patil was arrested and later released on bail.
Other accused in the case include Latur-based businessman Satish Mandade, corporator Mohan Shukla, Parasmal Jain, former state excise inspector Shashikant Kulkarni, Bahujan Samaj Party worker Kailash Yadav as well as alleged shooters Dinesh Tiwari, Pintu Singh and Chote Pandey.