In a strange and shocking development, the case related to the murder of Right to Information (RTI) activist Satish Shetty has been closed. Satish Shetty was brutally killed on 13 February, 2010, while returning home from his morning walk.
Sandeep Shetty, brother of the late Satish Shetty, had filed the case. He says, “My petition (639/2019) has been disposed off 10 days ago, but the order has not been uploaded on the High Court’s Case Management Information System (CIS)”. He was told that the order is not yet signed.
It is important to remember the background of this sensational case. The CBI's (Central Bureau of Investigation's) intensive investigation into the murder had led to a 10,000-page report that named 11 persons as accused, including a high-profile name like Virendra Mhaiskar, managing director of Ideal Road Builders (IRB).
On 8 August 2014, the CBI, in an affidavit submitted to the Bombay High Court, had said that prima facie Satish Shetty’s murder appeared to be the result of a first information report (FIR) filed by him against Mr Mhaiskar in a land grab case. However, within three days after the affidavit was filed (on 11 August 2014), the CBI filed a closure report stating it could not find evidence against the 11 accused.
Sandeep then filed a writ petition in the Bombay HC against the closure and the HC ordered the CBI to re-investigate the case. Four years later, in April 2018, the CBI again closed the case due to lack of evidence. A trial court in Pune accepted the closure report on 21 September 2018.
Sandeep Shetty the filed a revision petition on 5 February 2019, against the acceptance of CBI’s closure report by the Pune court, alleging that it was a one-sided decision and he was not given a hearing.
The division bench led by Justice BP Dharmadhikari, directed Mr Shetty to approach a single judge bench as per the procedure. Sandeep then mentioned the matter to the court of Justice Mridula Bhatkar who posted it for hearing at the end of March 2019.
However on 11 March 2019, the division bench assignment changed and a new bench took over. On 13th March, lawyers from IRB approached the bench and proposed an intervention. In fact, IRB’s name was not even mentioned in the CBI closure report and, therefore, it did not have local standi. Yet, it approached the bench.
Sandeep says, “It is shocking that the IRB representative intervened without filing any detail on the reasons of intervention and creating no paper trail in the HC registry. Firstly, the IRB is not even a respondent so it has no local standi but the company was allowed to have its say and suddenly the judge ordered disposal of the case and did not allow me to speak.”
Sandeep also says that IRB's managing director had not intervened when the CBI named him as an accused in 2013, but chose to do it this time.
As Sandeep Shetty says, many questions remain unanswered
* Why did the HC division bench take up a matter not assigned to its court and which is already mentioned before a appropriate Court
* Why would someone who is neither the petitioner nor the respondent in the current litigation be allowed to intervene?
* Does this mean that nobody killed Satish Shetty?
Sandeep now plans to knock at the doors of the Supreme Court of India, give memorandum to Chief Justice of India and also file a complaint with the newly-appointed Lokpal.
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(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”