PUNE: The CBI Monday opposed the bail plea of lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar, arrested in the murder case of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar, claiming he would tamper with evidence if granted bail.
Punalekar's bail plea is being heard in the court of Additional Sessions Judge R M Pande.
Special prosecutor for the CBI, Prakash Suryawanshi, disputed the defense's argument that Punalekar's advice to Sharad Kalaskar, one of the shooters arrested in the case, to destroy the firearm used in the murder was "legal communication" between a client and a lawyer.
"He (Punalekar) crossed all the limits by giving advice to Kalaskar to destroy the firearms (used in Dabholkar and Gauri Lankesh murders), thus it was not legal advice," Suryawanshi argued.
Punalekar gave the advice as a "sadhak" (follower) of the Sanatan Sanstha and not as a lawyer, he added.
Defense counsel Subhash Jha told the court that even if it is assumed that Punalekar had advised Kalaskar to destroy the firearm, as claimed by the CBI, it was "legal advice" and "a professional communication".
"Even if we accept their theory that Punalekar instructed Kalaskar to destroy the weapons, the present case against him does not go beyond IPC section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information). The section is bailable, so Punalekar is entitled to get bail," Jha told court.
However, Suryawanshi said, "This is not merely section 201, but it should be read with 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) and other sections of the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act)."
He said that while destroying the firearms, the accused persons dismantled them and kept the barrels and sliders with them for later use.
"All this is part of a big conspiracy as first Dabholkar was killed, later Pansare, then Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh were killed. No idea who is next," the CBI counsel added.
Suryawanshi said two days after Dabholkar was killed, his family members, in their statements, had pointed fingers at the Sanatan Sanstha.
"We are currently investigating the case and the probe is at a preliminary stage. If accused is given bail, he will tamper with the evidence and something else will happen," he said.
The defense counsel contended that the CBI is "groping in the dark" with its probe.
"First Pune police, who was probing the case, came with some different theory in which it had named two firearms dealers. But after the CBI took over the case, it came up with a theory stating that Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar were the shooters. Now the CBI is stating that Kalaskar and Sachin Andure are the assailants," Jha said.
He also claimed that Punalekar and Bhave were arrested on the basis of a confession statement of Kalaskar to Karnataka police in some other case, adding that it is not permissible in the present case.
Further arguments will be made on June 19.