NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought responses from the Centre, the CBI, Maharashtra and the state police on a PIL by Juna Akhara priests seeking a CBI probe into the Palghar lynching incident of April 16 in which two priests of the Akhara and their driver were lynched by a mob in the presence of police.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, M R Shah and V Ramasubramanian sought responses by the second week of July after petitioners' counsel
said the Akhara and its members, as well as the kin of those killed, had little faith in the fairness of investigation by Maharashtra police.
The two priests — 72-year-old
Giri and 35-year-old Sushil Giri — and their driver were beaten in the presence of police and killed by a mob on April 16 in Palghar while they were on their way to attend the funeral of their spiritual guru
in Surat, Gujarat. The police registered an FIR on April 18.
Doubting the fairness of the state police’s investigation and criticising the manner in which the Maharashtra government had handled the case so far, the petitioners told the court that their fundamental right to fair and just investigation as kin of the deceased was violated and pleaded for transfer of probe to the CBI.
"Several video clips, which have surfaced on social media, and news reports of the incident demonstrate active involvement of the police personnel present at the site of the incident as they can be seen handing over the three persons to the unlawful assembly of persons. These video clips further indicate the shocking manner in which three unarmed and defenceless people were brutally beaten with sticks and weapons by members of the mob," the petitioners said.
They said the Maharashtra government and the police claimed to have arrested 101 people (including nine minors) and transferred the probe to the state CID. "Totality of circumstances raise serious doubts about the impartiality of investigation because of alleged involvement of police personnel in the lynching incident," they said. Referring to multiple PILs on the issue pending before the Bombay High Court, the petitioners said those PIL petitioners were not authorised to represent the deceased.
The petitioners said they had sent representations to the respondents for transfer of probe to the CBI and demanded allocation of land for construction of a memorial for the lynched priests in Palghar. "Since there was no response to the representations, we decided to approach the Supreme Court," they said.