The Maharashtra government on Wednesday said the petitions filed in the Supreme Court for a CBI probe into the lynching of two sadhus at Palghar was an attempt to derive “political capital” of the incident that happened during the pandemic lockdown.
“All the action seems to have been taken by the State”, Justice Ashok Bhushan, heading a three-judge Bench, observed orally at the beginning of the hearing.
Senior advocate R. Basant, for Maharashtra, affirmed that “all action has been taken”. He said the writ petitions filed under Article 32 of the Constitution should be wound up now.
“Two crimes have been registered. One against the mob under murder and 126 persons have been charge-sheeted. The second one is against police officers who were at the scene. We think some of them ought to have acted better. They have been punished with compulsory retirement and/or other disciplinary actions… We don’t understand how Article 32 petitions are still pending… They are making political capital of these Article 32 petitions”, Mr. Basant submitted.
The court gave the petitioners two weeks’ time to file their replies to the Maharashtra affidavit.
Punished for negligence
In an earlier hearing, the State informed the court that 18 police officers were punished for negligence and dereliction of duty for their inability to prevent the lynching.
The police opposed the plea filed by the relatives of the priests to transfer the case to the CBI. A short affidavit filed by the police said a departmental enquiry prima facie found that they did not act in time to prevent the incident.
The punishment of the 18 officers ranged from dismissal to reverting to minimal pay for a specific number of years and even compulsory retirement.
Also read: 18 policemen punished for Palghar lynching
An earlier affidavit by the the government informed the court that a specialised unit of the State CID was probing the case since April 20 and two charge sheets against 126 accused had been filed.
The court had ordered the State to place the charge sheets on record before it.
The affidavit by the State had said the case was transferred to the CID unit considering the need for fairness, transparency in investigation and the large number of accused involved.