Dabholkar murder case: SC rejects plea against discontinuation of court-monitored probe

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a petition filed by the daughter of slain Maharashtra rationalist Narendra Dabholkar challenging a Bombay High Court order to discontinue the court-monitored probe in his murder.

Dabholkar, who fought against superstition, was shot dead by two motorcycle-borne assailants in Pune on August 20, 2013.

A bench comprising Justices Vikram Nath and Satish Chandra Sharma noted the high court had said that Mukta Dabholkar, the daughter of the deceased rationalist, can provide any material regarding the criminal case to the CBI and the agency had to consider them as per law.

“Prima facie, we are not inclined to interfere with the order passed by the high court,” the bench said, while dismissing the plea.

Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for Mukta Dabholkar, submitted it was a serious case where the larger conspiracy needed to be probed.

The Bombay High Court had been monitoring the case since 2014, when the matter was transferred to the CBI from Pune Police.

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In April last year, the high court discontinued the monitoring, saying it cannot be “perpetual”.

Another top court bench had on January 5 dismissed a separate plea by Mukta Dabholkar challenging the bail granted by the Bombay High Court to an accused in the case.

Mukta had approached the top court against the May 6, 2021 order of the Bombay High Court which granted bail to Vikram Bhave.

The high court had said the material placed by the CBI “does not appear to show reasonable grounds to conclude that the accusations levelled against Bhave can be said to be prima facie true.”

Bhave was accused of helping two other accused – Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar – who allegedly shot Dabholkar on August 20, 2013 in Pune, with a reconnaissance of the spot and finding an escape route after the crime.

Bhave was arrested along with advocate Sanjeev Punalekar on May 25, 2019 by the CBI on the basis of a statement given by Kalaskar.

A special Pune court had in 2021 framed charges against the alleged mastermind of the crime, Virendra Sinh Tawde.

It had charged Tawde and three others with murder and criminal conspiracy, and terror related offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Another accused Sanjeev Punalekar was charged with destruction of evidence.

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