Mumbai: Less than five months after the brutal killing of Malegaon Additional Collector Yashwant Sonawane, all the 10 accused arrested by the police are now out on bail, simply because prosecutors failed to file a chargesheet. This despite the accused being booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.
The incident had attracted nationwide outrage after Sonawane was allegedly burnt alive by the oil mafia in Manmad on January 25. The Maharashtra police investigated the case for over 70 days, after which 10 people were arrested. The main accused Popat Shinde, died of burns sustained during the attack.
Despite the arrests, Sonwane's family insisted the case be probed by the CBI. After this appeal the case was transferred to the CBI on April 8. The CBI investigation lasted for about 40 days, with no headway.
But this wasn't just the only shocker, one person accused in the case got bail on February 22 itself, and two more were set free on April 2.
The three were given bail because the Maharashtra police failed to convince the court that they were present at the crime scene. Shockingly, the CBI failed to do so too.
The CBI applied for extension twice, for the maximum time allowed for filing a chargesheet. While a month's extension was given, the court rejected the second plea. After the CBI failed to file the chargesheet, the special court gave bail to the remaining seven on May 25.
The CBI had told the court they needed more time as too many documents needed to be translated from Marathi. An embarrassed Maharashtra government has put forth this as a defence.
RR Patil Maharashtra Home Minister said, "When the case is with the CBI, how can the police be blamed? If some people have got bail that doesn't mean that the probe has faltered."
The government's promise of treating the murder as a test case and conducting a speedy trial, now lies in tatters, much like the hope of justice for the Sonawane family.