Case against lawyer illogical, says defence

first_imgThe Central Bureau of Investigation’s arrest of advocate Sanjeev Punalekar, counsel for the fringe right-wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha, in connection with the 2013 murder of rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar was “illogical”, his lawyers argued on Tuesday.A special court was hearing the bail applications of Mr. Punalekar and his aide, Sanathan Sanstha member Vikram Bhave, who were arrested by the CBI on May 26.Mr. Punalekar and Mr. Bhave have been alleged to have participated in the conspiracy to murder Dr. Dabholkar, especially in destruction of evidence and in aiding and abetting Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar — named by the CBI as the assailants.Arguing for bail, defence counsel, Advocate Virendra Ichalkaranjikar, said it made no sense to name his client in 2018 as part of a conspiracy for a murder that occurred in 2013.“The CBI says that advocate Punalekar had allegedly advised Kalaskar [the shooter] on destroy the murder weapon in July 2018. But if Dr. Dabholkar’s murder took place in 2013, then logically, any conspiracy must have been hatched prior to the crime, i.e. in 2013. So, how can the agency implicate advocate Punalekar for ‘conspiracy’ in 2018?” he submitted.He further pointed out the anomalies in terms of the murder weapon and the alleged assailants in the two charge sheets filed by the CBI in the case, first in June 2016 and the second supplementary charge sheet in February 2019.“In the first indictment, the CBI had named Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar [absconding Sanstha activists] as the two shooters. Then, in 2019, it named Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar without providing any logical reason as to this change,” he added.Advocate Dharmraj Chandel, another defence counsel said the agency could not post-date Mr. Punalekar’s role in the crime.“In this event, section 120 B [criminal conspiracy] and 302 [murder] of the Indian Penal Code [IPC] cannot be invoked against the accused. And if these cannot be invoked, then the UAPA, invoked against advocate Punalekar, too, is not tenable,” he said.Mr. Chandel further said that even if the CBI’s allegations were taken at face value, then the role assigned to advocate Punalekar – section 201[causing disappearance of evidence] of the IPC – was a bailable offence.Additional sessions judge R.M. Pande posted the next hearing on the bail pleas on June 17.On June 4, the court had remanded both accused to judicial custody.In September last year, seeking an extension of Mr. Kalaskar’s custody, the CBI had further disclosed to the court that in July 2018, the accused had allegedly dismantled four country-made pistols and thrown the firearms in the creeks of Greater Mumbai and Thane, while suggesting that one of the firearms could be the murder weapon used to kill Dr. Dabholkar.In his statement to the CBI last year, Mr. Kalaskar had allegedly said that Mr. Punalekar, known for his defamatory statements against Dr. Dabholkar, had asked him to destroy the weapons.According to the CBI, Mr. Kalaskar had further revealed that it was Thane-based Mr. Bhave who had allegedly planned the reconnaissance, pointed out Dr. Dabholkar to the assailants and even planned the getaway route for the shooters after the crime.Besides the arrests of Mr. Andure, Mr. Kalaskar and Dr. Virendra Tawde — said to be the alleged mastermind of the murders of Dr. Dabholkar and veteran Communist leader Govind Pansare — the CBI has arrested Amol Kale, Amit Digvekar and Rajesh Bangera in connection with the conspiracy to kill the two rationalist-thinkers.last_img