The Supreme Court on Tuesday transferred the murder case of rationalist and author MM Kalburgi to the Karnataka SIT, which is currently probing journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder. The apex court, which was hearing a petition filed by MM Kalburgi’s wife Umadevi seeking an independent probe, said that probe will be monitored by the Dharwad bench of the Karnataka High Court.
The Supreme Court bench also stated that if the four cases – the murders of Gauri Lankesh, MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar – are linked, then one special investigating team must probe all four murders and must be monitored by one High Court.
When the question of handing over the case to Maharashtra SIT came up, the counsel representing Karnataka SIT said that the team of investigators was already probing the Gauri Lankesh murder and that there was no point in handing over the case to the Maharashtra SIT.
The court also sought a status report in a sealed envelope detailing the investigation into the murders of Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar.
In the last hearing, which was held on January 25, the Supreme Court had stated that the case would not be adjourned as it was a “serious one”. "It's a very serious case and we will hear it... We are not going to adjourn the case," Justice Rohinton Nariman had said.
The murder of rationalist and write MM Kalburgi was being probed by the Criminal Investigation Department of Karnataka.
Rationalist and activist who fought for Maharashtra’s Anti-Superstition Act, Narendra Dabholkar, was shot dead in Pune in 2013. CPI leader Govind Pansare was shot dead in 2015. Professor Kalburgi was shot dead by two bike-borne assailants posing as college students in August 2015 inside his house. Journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017.
The CBI is currently probing the murder of Narendra Dabholkar. The Maharashtra SIT is probing the killing of Govind Pansare. The Criminal Investigation Department of Karnataka is probing the murder of MM Kalburgi and the Karnataka SIT is probing the Gauri Lankesh murder case.
Before the SIT had uncovered an alleged organised crime racket, which was planning the murders of several rationalists across the country, there had been no clues in the murders Dabholkar, Pansare and MM Kalburgi.
The Karnataka SIT has filed a chargesheet against 18 persons in connection with Gauri Lankesh’s murder. The probe also revealed that the group which allegedly planned and executed her murder were members of Hindutva outfit Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, a sister organisation of the Sanathan Sanstha.
Kalburgi’s wife Umadevi had petitioned the apex court for an independent probe as the CID had reached a dead end and the trail in the murder case of MM Kalburgi was turning cold. The petition was filed in 2018.
“Even after two years, there is no progress in the investigation… The investigation requires the involvement of three states and central agencies like CBI and the NIA. Therefore, this is an exceptional case indispensably necessitating the intervention of the SC under Article 32 of the Constitution of India,” Umadevi’s petition had stated.