Nagpur: In a significant development in the sensational Kamble double murder case, the Supreme Court on Friday rejected a petition filed by accused seeking the trial outside the state of Maharashtra.
Earlier, the apex court, without staying the trial being conducted in Nagpur court, had issued notices to State Government and the accused and sought their reply in four weeks. Accordingly, the State and the accused had filed their replies in the court. After going through the replies, the Supreme Court, almost 11 months after, rejected the transfer petition of the accused and ruled the trial in Kamble double murder case would be held in Nagpur court itself.
The accused in the murder case had moved the Supreme Court and filed a transfer petition seeking the trial in the other state. The accused had argued that the District and Sessions Judge A S Qazi (DJ-9) has been conducting the trial under political pressures. Due to this accusation, the Judge A S Qazi had given the accused opportunity and enough time to approach the Supreme Court and complete the necessary process.
The accused, apart from levelling accusations against the Judge A S Qazi, had also charged the State Government and police, and filed a transfer petition in the apex court. Hearing on this transfer petition was held in the Supreme on Friday, July 12, 2019, before a Division Bench of Justice S Abdul Nazir and Justice R Subhash Reddy.
The Bench heard the arguments of lawyers of the accused as well as state and the complainant. During the argument, the counsels for the accused said that the Nagpur’s Sessions Court is working under pressures. Further, reports in newspapers are one sided favouring the complainant. Rejecting the claim, Principal Public Prosecutor Nishant Katneshwarkar and complainant Ravikant Kamble’s lawyer Sachin S Pujari informed the Supreme Court that there no pressure whatsoever on District and Sessions Court. The accused have been given enough time. Moreover, charges have been framed in Sessions Court and trial has already commenced. One witness has deposed and other witnesses have been issued summons notices. Since the case is of serious nature, reports are published in newspapers regularly.
After hearing the arguments, the apex court dismissed the transfer petition of the accused and ruled that trial in the case would be held in Nagpur court as usual.
The State was represented by Chief Standing Counsel of State of Maharashtra and Supreme Court of India’s senior lawyer Nishant Katneshwarkar while Adv Sachin S Pujari represented the complainant Ravikant Kamble. Adv Gagan Sangi and Adv Sidharth Dharmadhikari held brief for the accused.
It may be recalled, Usha Kamble (54) and her one and-a-half-year-old granddaughter Rashi were brutally murdered by four persons, including Ganesh Shahu and his wife Gudiya, with sharp-edged weapon. The double murder took place at Shahu’s residence at Plot No. 34, Pawansut Nagar, Hudkeshwar, on February 17, 2018. The accused persons packed the bodies in gunny bags and dumped in a nullah near Durga Lay-out, behind Vihirgaon village on Umred Road.
An offence under Sections 302, 364, 201, 34 of the Indian Penal Code read with Sections 2, 3 and 5 of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was registered against the accused persons.
The Sessions Court had framed charges in the double murder case against all the four accused. District and Sessions Judge A S Qazi had finalised charges under Sections 302, 394, 364, 201, 120(B) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code along with Sections 2, 3 and 5 of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against Ganesh Shahu and other accused.
The ghastly murders had created public outrage. Subsequently, the renowned prosecutor Adv Ujwal Nikam was named as Special Public Prosecutor to handle the sensitive case. The draft charges were submitted in July 2018 and finally on February 15, the charges were framed.