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A Pune Court on Saturday extended till June 4 the CBI custody of Sanatan Sanstha’s lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar and his close aide Vikram Bhave in relation to the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar. The duo was earlier remanded to seven-day custody by the Court.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told the Additional Sessions Judge AV Rotte today that Punalekar was not cooperating in the investigation and Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Suryavanshi arguing on behalf of the agency reiterated that Punalekar has a role in the big chain of conspiracy. It was also submitted that two laptops and some mobile phones were seized from the accused persons and the agency is in the process of analyzing the data from the seized electronics and thus an extension of the custody was needed.
Suryavanshi added that while Punalekar advised Kalaskar to destroy the weapons, Bhave helped the assailants find an escape route. CBI also requested for more time to investigate on the grounds that this is a case under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA) which entitles the investigating agency to seek a thirty-day remand of the accused, however, in this case only a period of fourteen days is being prayed for.
Advocate Subhash Jha, representing Punalekar, argued that Punalekar is an Advocate and the conversation between him and Kalaskar is of the nature of a conversation between a lawyer and a client. The advice given by Punalekar thus is not illegal and is, in fact, a privileged communication as under the Indian Evidence Act.
Bhave’s Counsel Ghanshyam Upadhyay argued that Kalaskar’s confession with respect to meeting Punalekar and Bhave was made in some other case.
Punalekar and Bhave were arrested by the CBI from Mumbai on May 25 and were produced before the Court in Pune on May 26 when they were remanded to CBI custody till June 1. The arrests were made by the agency on the basis of a statement of confession by Sharad Kalaskar who has been identified by the CBI as a shooter in the Dabholkar murder case. Kalaskar had allegedly admitted to meeting Punalekar and Bhave in June 2018 when he was advised to destroy the weapons used in the murder, according to the CBI.
Dabholkar was gunned down by two bike-borne assassins outside his Pune residence in 2013 while he was out on a morning walk. Both Punalekar and Bhave are reportedly associated with Sharad Kalaskar, one of the shooters suspected in the case. The other suspect is Sachin Paraksrao Andure. During interrogation, Kalaskar and Andure had reportedly revealed that Dabholkar’s murder was orchestrated by a right-wing group.
In May 2014, the Bombay High Court had transferred the probe in the case from Pune Police to the CBI and is monitoring the same.
Featured Image taken from here.