The Bombay High Court on Thursday expressed displeasure over the pace of probe into the killing of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, asking whether the chief minister did not have time to take stock of the cases.
It is "shameful" that almost every investigation requires the court's intervention, a bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and BP Colabawala said.
The CBI is probing the Narendra Dabholkar killing case, while the state CID is probing the Govind Pansare case.
"What is the CM doing? He holds 11 portfolios, including Home, but does not find the time to take stock of the case. His deputies do not have the time to remove obstacles in the probe?" the court said.
Noting that a political leader belonged to the state and not just any party, it said, "It is a sovereign function and cannot be outsourced."
The court made the remarks after CID lawyer Ashok
Mundargi submitted that the agency had doubled the strength of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Govind Pansare case.
He said there were now 35 officers in the team.
"Top officers have reviewed the case thoroughly recently. Five meetings have been conducted in the past few months, and the reward announced for any information on the absconding accused has been increased from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 50 lakh," Mundargi said.
The HC, however, dismissed the submissions, saying these were "knee-jerk reactions" introduced only after the court made some adverse remarks on the previous hearing.
It said the authorities could not just rely on vigilant citizens for help.
"We are not impressed. These are knee-jerk reactions. You think people will come forward to help you for money? Of all you know, they might be earning more for keeping quiet," the bench said.
It also expressed displeasure over nearly every case requiring the court's intervention.
"It is shameful and we should not be saying this but, if that unfortunate incident in Karnataka (killing of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh) had not happened and you (authorities in Maharashtra) had not coordinated with Karnataka police, you would have remained clueless," the court said.
It said in a democracy, everyone had the right to express oneself and that the perpetrators of such crimes must remember that "violence breeds violence".
"Those who are perpetrators of a crime today can become the victims of such crime tomorrow," the bench said.
CBI counsel Anil Singh told the court that the agency had already identified shooters in the Narendra Dabholkar case and filed charge sheets.
He said the probe agency required some time to work on "additional information" received from Karnataka police.
The court has now granted time to both the agencies till April 26 for further probe in the two cases.
Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead on August 20, 2013 in Pune while out on morning walk.
Govind Pansare was shot at on February 16, 2015 in Kolhapur and succumbed to injuries on February 20.