NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra government to submit a status report on investigation in the Palghar incident in which two sadhus and their driver were allegedly lynched by a mob on the night of April 16.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna passed the order while hearing, through video-conferencing, a plea which sought a CBI probe in the case. The plea alleged that the incident was a failure on the part of the police as a mob had gathered in the area in violation of the lockdown rules.
Refusing stay on the investigation, the apex court asked the petitioner to serve a copy of the plea to the standing counsel for Maharashtra. "Counsel for the petitioner is permitted to serve a copy of the petition on the standing counsel for the state of Maharashtra, returnable within four weeks. The state of Maharashtra shall submit the report regarding the status of the investigation in the meantime," the bench said in its order.
The plea, filed through advocate Rashi Bansal, has sought a direction to the authorities to constitute an apex court monitored SIT or a judicial commission headed by a retired top court judge to deal with the case.
The petitioner, Shashank Shekhar Jha, has also sought registration of FIR against concerned police officials for their failure to prevent the incident.
The three victims, from Kandivali in Mumbai, were travelling in a car to attend a funeral in Surat in Gujarat amid the nationwide lockdown when their vehicle was stopped and they were attacked and killed by a mob in Gadchinchile village on the night of April 16 in the presence of police.
The victims were identified as Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri (70), Sushil Giri Maharaj (35) and driver Nilesh Telgade (30). During the hearing, the petitioner referred to media reports and claimed that police was complicit in the incident as they did not use force to prevent it.
"This happened despite of the fact that whole country is under lockdown since March 25 and that no person is allowed to be out of their house and everyone has been asked to follow social distancing which raises a huge suspicion on part of local police," the plea said.
"During this whole incident, police did not take any concrete step to protect these innocent men which could be proved by the fact that they did not use any force to disperse the crowd and one of the video even shows that one of the police official actually pushed saints to the crowd when they were asking for the protection," it claimed.
The plea, which has sought transfer of trial in the case from Palghar to a fast track court in Delhi, has alleged that the whole incident was "pre-planned and there could be police involvement as well". It has alleged that attack on these sadhus was "more like an attack on our society as a whole and could cause social disturbance".
The police has arrested over 100 persons, including nine juvenile, in connection with the case.