Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Maharashtra government and police to file on June 21 a status report on the probe into the murder of senior Mid Day journalist Jyotirmoy Dey.

Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice R V More said in view of the importance of the case, they were also directing the State to ensure that Advocate General Ravi Kadam argues the matter himself.

The bench was hearing two petitions filed by lawyer V P Patil and former journalist Ketan Tirodkar seeking a CBI probe into Dey's killing.

The court also allowed applications filed by two journalist organisations -- Press Club, Mumbai and Marathi Patrakar Parishad -- to intervene in the matter as they also pleaded for a CBI probe into murder of Dey, who was shot dead by four unidentified assailants in suburban Powai on June 11.

Public prosecutor Pandurang Pol said investigations were on and the city police and its crime branch were moving in the right direction. He said the government was conscious and there was no need to transfer to probe to CBI at this stage.

However, the judges said they would like to know the progress made by city police and crime branch in the probe and asked the state to file a status report on June 21.

Petitioner Patil said, "Like fake encounters in the past, there was a possibility of fake investigations in this case" and pleaded for a probe by an independent agency like CBI.

Another petitioner, Ketan Tirodkar, argued that nexus between police and underworld was suspected and a CBI probe into Dey's murder was justified.  The Press Club and Marathi Patrakar Parishad argued that it was well known that Dey was reporting on an alleged nexus
between the underworld and Mumbai Police as well as the oil mafia. They apprehended that this was the reason for the brutal murder of Dey.

Consequently, it is in the larger interests of the public, and the journalistic community in particular, that this case be investigated by CBI, counsel Navroz Seervai argued.

Both intervenors said they had already made a written representation to the Chief Minister in this regard but their demand had not been considered so far.

They argued that the shocking incident of Dey's murder is an indication of the threats, extenuating circumstances and hostile environment within which journalists work. They are
vitally affected by this particular case and deeply concerned and interested in the thorough investigation of the matter.

Outside the court, President of Press Club, Gurbir Singh told reporters that a delegation of editors of national newspapers and networks would meet Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Saturday to demand more security for working journalists and to shift the probe from city police to CBI.

Three detained let off

Three persons detained in connection with the murder of senior journalist Jyotirmoy Dey have been let off, police said.

Three suspects--Anwar, Mateen Iqbal Hatela and Shaikh-- believed to be associated with gangster Chhota Shakeel were picked up for questioning on Wednesday to ascertain their
possible role in Dey's killing.

However, they were let off late last night and will be called for questioning if required, a senior police official said today without divulging further details.

The trio was picked by the Powai police from Mumbra in adjoining Thane district and handed over to the Crime Branch, which is probing the case, police said.

Also, a car in possession of Anwar was seized. The vehicle was suspected to have been used in the June 11 murder in Powai. The three were believed to be working for fugitive gangster Shakeel, a key aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, and their antecedents were being verified, they said.

56-year-old Dey, Editor (Special Investigation), with Mid-Day, who extensively covered underworld and crime for over two decades, was shot dead in broad daylight by four motorbike-borne assailants last Saturday.

JPN/Agencies