Probe agencies did not unmask masterminds, says court

The investigating agencies could not expose the masterminds behind the murder of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, and must introspect whether it was a mere failure or a “deliberate inaction” owing to the influence of any “person in power,” the trial court in Pune said on Friday in its judgement.

The two assailants who were convicted were not the masterminds, additional sessions Judge P.P. Jadhav observed in his verdict.

The special court for UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) cases convicted Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar in the 2013 murder and sentenced them to life imprisonment, but acquitted alleged conspirators Dr Virendrasinh Tawde, Sanjeev Punalekar, and Vikram Bhave for want of evidence.

In his order, Jadhav noted that there was evidence about motive for the murder against Tawde, and reasonable suspicion against Punalekar and Bhave regarding involvement in the crime. But the prosecution failed to convert motive and suspicion into evidence, the order said. As for Andure and Kalaskar, it was proved beyond reasonable doubt that they shot Dabholkar dead in Pune city on 20 August 2013, the court said.

The prosecution also failed to prove the offences under section 16 (punishment for terrorist act) of the UAPA and section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC against any of the accused, it said. Except ideological differences, Andure and Kalaskar had no personal enmity or rivalry with Dr Dabholkar, the court noted.

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