The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Maharashtra Police to produce a charge sheet in the Palghar lynching case before it for scrutiny.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy asked the Maharashtra government about the action taken against the erring police officials as months have passed after the lynching incident. The top court asked for inquiry reports, details of the investigation and also asked the police to file a charge sheet in the case before it for scrutiny.
A group of petitioners, all Juna Akhara priests and some of the relatives of two ‘sadhus’, who were lynched at Palghar, stated in a petition that they have no faith in the Maharashtra government or the police, and also do not expect a fair and just investigation into the case, as they suspected their involvement in it. Advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha who claimed to be the main petitioner in the case contended before the bench that Maharashtra is a land of Sadhus but they were literally handed over to the mob by the police itself.
Justice Bhushan asked advocate Rahul Chitnis, appearing for Maharashtra government, regarding the progress made in the inquiry conducted against the policemen in the lynching of the two Sadhus and their driver in Palghar. Jha contended that the state government must file relevant excerpts of the charge sheet and also file an affidavit on the progress of the investigation so far.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “Let all charge sheets come on record and let the court decide what is relevant or not.” The top court has posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks.
On June 11, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a plea seeking a CBI probe into the lynching of sadhus in Palghar and sought a response from the Maharashtra government.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, M R Shah and V Ramasubramanian also issued a notice on a separate plea seeking a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe to ensure evidence in the matter is not destroyed.
“There is a reasonable apprehension of bias if Respondent No. 2 (Maharashtra Police) proceeds with the investigation. It is judicially acknowledged that right to the fair and just investigation is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Therefore, the petitioners have approached this court inter alia, seeking transfer of investigation of the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation”, argued the petitioners.
Maharashtra government counsel opposed the petitions and contended before the top court that similar matters are pending before the Bombay High Court too. The counsel for the petitioner seeking an NIA probe argued: “our apprehension is that the evidence will disappear.” Counsel appearing for the Juna Akhara argued, “Witnesses are committing suicide. We have reasons to believe that the investigation is not taking its course.”
The plea contended that the mob started beating the sadhus, Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri, aged 70, and Sushilgiri Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri, aged 35 in front of the police officials. The plea contended the possible complicity of the Maharashtra Police and the state government that in the lynching of the sadhus.