Mumbai: A division bench of Bombay High Court on Thursday observed that the country was witnessing a "tragic phase" in which one could not speak or move around freely.
"We are witnessing a tragic phase in the country today. Citizens already feel that they can't voice their concerns or opinions fearlessly. Are we going to see a day when everyone will need police protection to move around or to speak freely?" asked the bench of Justices S.C. Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre.
The bench was hearing a plea by the family members of slain rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, seeking a court-monitored probe.
The bench asked: "What is happening in the state today? People come and torch buses, pelt stones, it is a free-for-all. What are your priorities? There is a state and then there is a government. The government might change tomorrow, but what about the state that is home to millions of people? Will everyone need police protection tomorrow to speak their minds?"
The observation came while the bench expressed its dissatisfaction with the probe by central and state agencies into the murder of Dabholkar and Pansare.
On August 20, 2013, Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune during his morning walk. Pansare was shot at on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur and died four days later.
The CBI and the Maharashtra CID's special investigation team had a hearing in the chambers as they had "sensitive information" to share.
While turning down the plea, the court had asked the agencies and the Maharashtra home department to file their reports, which were submitted on Wednesday.
"What is the point of the intervention of the highest court in the state, if this is the result? We are not impressed. There is nothing confidential in these reports. Is this how you deal with cases of crimes against society?" the bench asked.--TI