Dabholkar murder trial: Defence says it will contest 13 documents submitted by prosecution

On the last day of the hearing on September 30, the Special Public Prosecutor in the case, Prakash Suryavanshi, had submitted the 13 documents to the court, as part of the procedure under Section 294 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

THE DEFENCE lawyers in the murder case of Dr Narendra Dabholkar on Wednesday said they will be contesting the 13 documents submitted by the prosecution before the court, which include some panchnama reports and forensic examination findings, among others.

On the last day of the hearing on September 30, the Special Public Prosecutor in the case, Prakash Suryavanshi, had submitted the 13 documents to the court, as part of the procedure under Section 294 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The documents submitted by the prosecution include the spot panchnama of the crime scene, the inquest panchnama, the medical notification of the death of Dr Dabholkar, some reports denoting the findings of the Directorate of Forensic Laboratories and some documents seized by the CBI after it took over the investigation. The proceedings of the case are currently on in the Special Court of Additional Sessions Judge S R Navandar.

Suvarna Avhad Vast, who appeared on behalf of all the five accused in the case, told the court on Wednesday that the defence is denying the genuineness of the 13 documents filed by the prosecution.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Special Public Prosecutor Suryavanshi said, “In the case when the defence accepts the genuineness of the documents filed by us, they become part of the exhibits. Now that they have denied these documents, we will have to prove the genuineness of the documents by examining my witnesses. Normally, these documents are accepted by the defence, but ultimately it is the defence’s choice.”

Suvarna Avhad Vast, meanwhile, told mediapersons, “We will be contesting the documents submitted by the prosecution.” The prosecution is now slated to submit the list of witnesses to the court as part of the procedure. The next hearing of the case is scheduled on October 13.

Addressing both defence and prosecution lawyers during the hearing, the court said that because the accused have requested to be physically present in the courtroom during the trial, the court was considering options of conducting the trial on the premises of the Yerawada Prison in Pune or in the Ashoka Assembly Hall on Shivajinagar court premises, which will also allow social distancing norms to be followed.

The court also asked the defence and prosecution to assist in preparing a tentative plan to conduct the trial within a suitable timeframe. The court said that during the hearing on October 13, deliberations will be held on the place and timeframe of the trial, along with other details.

During a hearing on September 15, the Special Court had framed charges against four of the accused — Dr Virendrasingh Tawade, Sachin Andure Sharad Kalaskar and Vikram Bhave — for murder, conspiracy to commit murder, along with Section 16 of the UAPA pertaining to terrorist act and various provisions of the Arms Act for the use of firearms. The court had charged advocate Sanjeev Punalekar for destruction of evidence in the case. All five accused have pleaded not guilty.

Dr Dabholkar, a rationalist and founder of anti superstition organisation Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, was shot dead by two assailants while he was on a morning walk on the V R Shinde Bridge in the heart of Pune, on August 20 in 2013. He was 67. The Central Bureau of Investigation, which took over the case from Pune City police in 2014, has till now chargesheeted five accused in the case.

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