PUNE: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has argued in a court that the five accused in the 2013 murder case of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar be tried under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for striking "terror among a section of people".
The arguments over framing of charges against the five accused - Dr Virendrasinh Tawde, Sharad Kalaskar, Sachin Andure, advocate Sanjeev Punalekar and Vikram Bhave - began before additional sessions judge (special court judge) S R Navandar here on Friday.
Special public prosecutor Prakash Suryawanshi, while arguing the case on behalf of the CBI, said that the accused have been charged under IPC sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 120 B read with 302 (murder), relevant sections of the Arms Act and section 16 (punishment for the terrorist act ) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
He pressed for section 16 of the UAPA and argued how invoking it was justified in the case.
"The definition of section 15 of the UAPA is to strike terror in the mind of the society or section of people in the society. So our argument in the present case is that firearms were used to murder Dr Dabholkar to strike terror among a section of people, here a group of people, that is members of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (founded by Dabholkar), so section 16 of UAPA is attracted in the case," he said.
He added that the CBI had received sanction from the state government to invoke section 16 of the UAPA.
Defense counsel Virendra Ichalkaranjikar, however, opposed the prosecution's demand to invoke section 16 of the UAPA.
"We oppose the pressing of section 16 of the UAPA as the prosecution has been stating since 2016 through their various documents that Dr Tawde used to despise Dabholkar and he had killed him as a fallout of that. So where does the question of terror arise?" he said.
He added that they sought exactly what charges the prosecution wants to frame against Tawde as in the initial probe of the CBI, they had claimed that Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar had shot Dabholkar dead and had termed Tawde as the conspirator, but later came up with another theory before the court that Andure and Kalaskar had shot Dabholkar dead, in which they again named Tawde as the conspirator.
"How can this be the same? There has to be only one theory," he said.
After hearing arguments from both the sides, the court posted the matter for hearing on September 7.
Dabholkar, a well-known anti-superstition crusader, was shot dead in Pune on August 20, 2013.