Plea in SC to order CBI, NIA probe in Palghar lynching case, court issues notice

The petitioners aver that there is “reasonable apprehension of bias” if the Maharashtra CID proceeds with the investigation

Photo courtesy- social media
Photo courtesy- social media

NH Web Desk

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice in a plea seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Palghar lynching case, in which three people including two Sadhus were killed by a mob in Maharashtra back in April, reports

The matter was heard by a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, MR Shah, and V Ramasubramanian.

Hindu Sadhus of the Shri Panch Dashnam Juna Akhara and relatives of the two deceased priests approached the Supreme Court seeking a CBI investigation into the killing, claiming it was not possible for the Maharashtra CID to conduct a free and fair probe in the case.

At today's hearing, a connected plea was also filed seeking a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the case. Advocate Subhash Jha, appearing for the petitioner, raised the apprehension that evidence may "disappear". The court has issued notice in this matter as well.

The plea filed by the Akhara, through Advocate-on-Record Balaji Srinivasan, states that this is the first petition before the Supreme Court by the next of kin of the deceased priests.

Appearing before the court, Srinivasan said,"Witnesses are committing suicide. We have reasons to believe that investigation is not taking its course."

The petitioners aver that there is “reasonable apprehension of bias” if the Maharashtra CID proceeds with the investigation, as there are several video clips showing how the police might have played an active role in the lynching.

"Video clips very categorically depict that the police concerned might have an active role in the said case, therefore to expect the CID (which is constituted of members belonging to the same police) to conduct and conclude a fair and unbiased investigation without generating any apprehensions about its credibility and impartiality is not possible," says the plea.

It has been stated in the plea that even if the Maharashtra CID conducts and concludes its investigation, “the doubt over the credibility, fairness and impartiality of the investigation will be omnipresent” and that the “investigation would always remain tainted and biased.”

Questioning the “passive” behaviour of the Maharashtra police, the plea states that the two Sadhus and their driver were travelling to attend a funeral of another priest.

For this purpose, the petition claims that the three victims had the requisite passes to travel during lockdown. When their vehicle was intercepted by 150 to 200 people, the police were present, as the incident took place near a police station, the petition states.

While urging the court to transfer the case to the CBI, the petition states that the act of transferring the case to the CID by the government of Maharashtra was an act to “cover up their wrong doings.”

The plea has also prayed for the court to pass directions so that the land where the two Sadhus were lynched be allotted to the Akhara for a memorial to be built in memory of the deceased priests.

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