Palghar lynching case: Supreme Court asks Maharashtra Police to place second chargesheet on record

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New Delhi: In the sensational Palghar lynching case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday (February 24) directed Maharashtra Police to place before it the second chargesheet. The apex court adjourned by two weeks a batch of pleas seeking for a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the case.

In the alleged lynching case of three people, including two seers, in Palghar district in April last year, the counsel for the Maharashtra government informed a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R S Reddy. The bench said the fresh charge sheet shall be placed before it on record in two weeks and posted the matter for further hearing thereafter.

On September 7 last year, Maharashtra Police had informed the top court that it has punished “delinquent” policemen for dereliction of duty in the case. On August 6, 2020, the top court had asked Maharashtra Police to apprise it of the inquiry and action taken against the errant police personnel in the case.

Maharashtra Police had submitted before the apex court that as many as 18 delinquent police personnel have been awarded varying punishments and some of them have been dismissed from service and some of them have been compulsorily retired.

Some delinquent cops have been punished with salary cuts also, it had said, adding that the state’s criminal investigation department has so far filed two charge sheets in the alleged lynching case.

On June 11 last year, the top court had sought a response from the state government on two petitions seeking a separate probe by the CBI and the NIA into the alleged lynching.

The bench was hearing petitions including the one filed by sadhus of ‘Shri Panch Dashban Juna Akhara’ and relatives of the deceased seers. Their plea alleged the investigation by the state police was being conducted in a biased manner. The other plea, seeking an NIA probe into the incident, has been filed by advocate Ghanshyam Upadhyay.

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Besides the Maharashtra government, one of the petitions has arrayed the Centre, CBI, and the Director-General of Police of Maharashtra as respondents in the matter.

The plea filed by ‘sadhus’ of ‘Shri Panch Dashban Juna Akhara’ has sought transfer of the probe to the CBI, claiming that there is “reasonable apprehension of bias” if Maharashtra Police proceeds with the investigation.

“Several video clippings have emerged on social media and news reports which very clearly demonstrate the active involvement of the police present, who can be seen handing over the three persons to the unlawful assembly of persons gathered,” the plea has claimed.

The three victims from Kandivali in Mumbai were travelling in a car to attend a funeral in Surat in Gujarat amid the COVID-19-induced 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 last year in the presence of police.

The victims were identified as Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri, 70, Sushil Giri Maharaj, 35, and Nilesh Telgade, 30, who was driving the vehicle.

While hearing a separate plea seeking a CBI probe in the case, the top court had on May 1 directed the Maharashtra government to submit a status report on the investigation in the matter.

(With Agency Inputs)

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