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Trace absconding accused in Dabholkar, Pansare cases: HC

The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the CBI and the Maharashtra Crime Investigation Department (CID) to take concrete steps to trace the absconding persons wanted in connection with the killings of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare.

A bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre said since the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the CID had dedicated teams to probe the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare respectively, they must make major headway in the cases in a time-bound manner.

The directions came after both the probe agencies submitted their respective progress reports in sealed covers before the bench.

The CBI is handling the Dabholkar case, while the CID is probing Pansare’s killing.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, who appeared for the CBI, told the bench that the agency was waiting for a prior sanction from the state government to prosecute some persons in the case under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

He said that waiting for the sanction was one of the reasons for some delay in the CBI probe.

CID counsel Ashok Mundargi told the bench the state agency had secured the custody of Amol Kale, one of the alleged key conspirators in the murders of anti-superstition activist Dabholkar and journalist Gauri Lankesh, on November 15 this year.

Mundargi said Kale is also an accused in the Pansare case and that the CID was still in the process of questioning him.

At this, the bench said while Kale’s custody was one positive step, the authorities must also make more effort towards tracing the other absconding accused persons.

“What are the steps taken to trace other accused persons? You must make more sincere efforts to trace other accused persons. You have dedicated teams to investigate both the cases and therefore, more is expected out of you,” the bench said.

It directed both the CBI and the CID to submit their reports of further progress by December 14.

Dabholkar was shot dead on August 20, 2013, in Pune during a morning walk.

Pansare was shot at on February 16, 2015, in his hometown Kolhapur and he succumbed to injuries on February 20.

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