Don't be afraid to investigate places of worship: HC to cops

While referring to Sanatan Sanstha, which is under scanner for rationalist Govind Pansare’s murder, the HC told the police not to treat it as a “holy place”

Dissatisfied with the progress, the Bombay High Court yesterday pulled up state police and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the murder cases of rationalists Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar. Since Goa’s Sanatan Sanstha, a non-profit organisation, is also under scanner in Pansare’s murder, the HC bench referred to it as “place of worship” and asked cops to not be scared of investigating them, as such places have been found to be “dens of crime” earlier.

“When you visit places of worship, don’t think of it as holy place since these places can be dens of crime. Don’t visit holy places to shake hands, we have seen how spiritual people have indulged in crimes. You should not be scared of investigating such places. It’s your duty and you’re bound by it,” observed the HC bench comprising Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, while hearing two petitions — one filed by Smita Pansare, daughter-in-law of Govind Pansare, asking for a fair investigation, and another by activist Ketan Tirodkar, who demanded that like the Dabholkar case, the Pansare case be transferred to the CBI.

The CBI and state police had submitted sealed investigation reports of Dabholkar and Pansare cases respectively in the court. Although the details of the reports weren’t revealed, sources told mid-day that a few more suspects had been named in the state’s report and the CBI had mentioned that it was going to send bullets from both these cases as well as scholar M M Kalburgi’s case to a forensic laboratory abroad to find similarities. But the court didn’t seem happy. “Do you think we are impressed by this (reports)? Don’t give us reasons like lack of staff and infrastructure. Please keep them to yourself. I am sure you will give us results,” said Justice Dharmadhikari.

Abhay Nevgi, senior counsel representing the Dabholkar family, told the court that the CBI was not taking their suggestions seriously. To this, the court said to the CBI, “Give them (Dabholkar’s family) time. If they come up with an angle, you see if you find it logical. But don’t come to us later saying you wasted all your time on their suggestions and at the end you did not find anything.”

The HC told both the cops and the CBI to come up with something substantial the next time. “If you want, we will parade you daily. But we don’t want reports after reports being submitted here. We want you to do something before the next hearing,” said the court.

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