Pune activist murder: Ex-cop remanded in CBI custody till April 16

Pune: A local court today remanded in CBI custody till April 16 a retired police officer who was arrested by CBI in a case relating to the 2010 murder of Pune-based RTI activist Satish Shetty.

The accused, Bhausaheb Andhalkar, who was a police inspector with local crime branch when the incident took place, was yesterday arrested by CBI for allegedly conspiring with others in the murder of Shetty on January 13, 2010.

Andhalkar was a part of the murder investigation, which had led to the arrest of some suspects. However, police had failed to make any progress in the case and the probe was later transferred to the central agency by Maharashtra government.

Additional Sessions Judge S B Kachare, while granting Andhalkar's custody to CBI's Special Cell, said in his order that custodial interrogation of the accused is essential to
unearth a larger conspiracy behind the murder of Satish Shetty.

Andhalkar, who is the first suspect arrested in the case since CBI has reopened the case in early 2015, was brought to the Shivajinagar court by a CBI team headed by investigating officer Deputy Superintendent of Police Vijaykumar Shukla here.

Senior Public Prosecutor Atul Kumar told the court that "since the complicity of Andhalkar, the then crime branch police inspector, associated with the initial probe of the
case, emerged during the further investigation, his custodial interrogation was felt expedient in the interest of the case."

He also argued that custodial interrogation of the accused is necessary to unearth the larger conspiracy in the case and the prosecution has to probe certain crucial facts and articles, including the weapon of the murder, which has not been recovered so far.

"Certain facts and circumstances pertaining to the case are in the exclusive knowledge of the accused and since he is not cooperating in the investigation and not coming up with facts, his custodial interrogation is necessary," the prosecution added.

Shetty was murdered in Pune by unidentified assailants when he had stepped out of his house for morning walk at Talegaon Dabhade town in Pune district. The unidentified men had attacked him with swords.

A year before he was killed, Shetty had reportedly lodged a complaint with Pune police about an alleged land scam involving IRB chairman Virendra Mhaiskar. Meanwhile, defence counsel Sudhir Shah, while opposing the custody, argued that in 2014, the closure report was filed by CBI, in which Andhalkar was accused number seven but in the closure report, no evidence was mentioned.

"And after the case was reopened, CBI has not got any fresh evidence against Andhalkar and there are no new charges levelled against him in the remand application," Shah argued.

After filing a closure report in local court in August 2014 saying that it could not find any "prosecutable evidence" against the suspects, CBI in early 2015 reopened the probe in view of the new evidence recovered in searches at the premises of IRB Infrastructure in Pune and Mumbai.

It had carried out searches at 21 locations to probe allegations of land-grabbing along the Mumbai-Pune Highway on the directions of the Bombay High Court. Following the searches, the case was reopened.

(With inputs from Chaitraly Deshmukh)

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