The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to inform it by January 30 the status of the probe into the 2013 murder of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar.
A division bench of Justices A S Gadkari and P D Naik was hearing a petition filed by Dabholkar's daughter Mukta Dabholkar seeking that the court continue to monitor the investigation.
In 2014, the HC had transferred the probe to the CBI from Pune police following a petition by activist Ketan Tirodkar and later by Mukta Dabholkar. Since then, the HC has been monitoring the progress in the case.
Dabholkar (67), a rationalist and the founder of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, an anti-superstition organization, was shot dead by two motorcycle-borne assailants while on a morning walk in Pune on August 20, 2013.
The assailants were allegedly linked to the radical Hindu outfit Sanatan Sanstha.
The CBI has so far filed charge sheets against five persons. The agency had earlier said its probe was continuing as the masterminds of the murder were at large.
On Wednesday, the bench initially noted that as a charge sheet has been filed, the HC need not continue its monitoring.
"There cannot be perpetual monitoring. Some monitoring is fine but law is clear that when a charge sheet is filed, the rights of the accused are to be considered," the court said.
Advocate Abhay Nevagi, appearing for Mukta Dabholkar, however, argued that the CBI was yet to trace the motorcycle and weapons used in the crime.
The supplementary charge sheet filed by the CBI stated that investigation was still going on, he pointed out.
The court sought to know what happened after the supplementary charge sheet was filed in 2019.
"The agency has to tell us what is the stage at which the case is, and what the agency proposes to do," it added.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the CBI, sought time as a new investigating officer has taken over the probe.
The bench then adjourned the hearing to January 30.
Meanwhile, an intervention application has been filed by two of the five arrested accused in the case -- Vikram Bhave and Virendrasinh Tavade -- opposing the petition filed by Mukta Dabholkar.
In 2021, a special CBI court in Pune framed charges against the accused and the trial is underway.
-With PTI Input