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Bhima Koregaon violence: Pune court rejects bail pleas of activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Sudha Bharadwaj

The high court on Wednesday had quashed the lower court's decision by which the Maharashtra police was granted more time to conclude the investigation and file the chargesheet against lawyer Surendra Gadling and others in the case.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: October 26, 2018 14:04 IST
  On October 5, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira had

 

On October 5, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira had filed bail applications in Pune Sessions Court while Sudha Bharadwaj had filed a bail application on October 6. 

The Pune Sessions Court on Friday rejected bail pleas of activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Elgar Parishad case, who are presently under house arrest following the Supreme Court's order in the Bhima Koregaon case.

The Pune Police had arrested these three activists along with two others - poet P Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha -- on August 28 in connection with the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, which allegedly

triggered violence at Koregaon Bhima the next day.

Police alleged that some of the backers of the conclave had Maoist links.

District and Sessions Judge (Special Judge) K D Vadane rejected the bail applications of Bharadwaj, Gonsalves and Ferreira.

The prosecution, while opposing the bail applications, had argued that they have "corrborative evidence" against the accused to prove their involvement in Maoist activities, such as mobilising cadres, recruiting students from eminent institutes and sending them to the interior to become "professional revolutionaries", raise funds and procure weapons. 

Earlier on October 5, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira had filed bail applications in Pune Sessions Court. On the other hand,  Sudha Bharadwaj had filed a bail application on October 6. 

The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its verdict on the review petition filed by historian Romila Thapar seeking SIT probe into arrest of activists.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Supreme Court rejected an urgent hearing on a review petition filed by historian Romila Thapar against the verdict that refused SIT probe into arrests of five activists in Bhima Koregaon case and allowed the Maharashtra Police to continue with its investigation.

Thapar’s petition had sought a review of the Supreme Court ruling rejecting a SIT probe into the arrests of activists Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferriera, Sudha Bhardwaj, and Gautam Navlakha.

The court also allowed the Maharashtra Police to continue with the investigation.

On September 28, the apex court, headed by then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had extended the interim house arrest of the activists and also refused a SIT probe into the arrests. In a 2-1 verdict, the court declined to interfere in the proceedings, saying dissenting views expressed or difference in political ideology had nothing to do with the case.

Ruling on petitions by historian Thapar and others, CJI Misra and Justice Khanwilkar (he wrote the order for both) said they had examined the material gathered by police during the investigation and were of the considered opinion that it is not a case of arrest because of mere dissenting views expressed or difference in the political ideology of the named accused, but concerning their link with the members of the banned organisation and its activities.

The five activists were held by the Pune police on August 28. They were put under house arrest on August 29 following an apex court order on the plea by Thapar, economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devaki Jain, sociology professor Satish Deshpande and human rights lawyer Maja Daruwala against the police action.

Last month, police arrested five left-wing activists, after raiding their homes in several states for suspected Maoist links over the Elgar Parishad meeting which was held a day before the violence.

The police raided the homes of the activists and lawyers from five states - Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, Bharadwaj in Faridabad and Gautam Navalakha in Delhi. 

In a media briefing, the police had released details of seized letters related to five activists arrested in June in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence.

The police also claimed they have "conclusive proof" to link Left-wing activists arrested in June and this week to Maoists, saying one of them spoke of a "Rajiv Gandhi-type event to end Modi-government".

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on October 29 will hear hear the Maharashtra government's plea challenging the Bombay High Court verdict by which the extesion of time was granted to the state police to conclude the investigation into the Bhima Koregaon violence.

The high court on Wednesday had quashed the lower court's decision by which the Maharashtra police was granted more time to conclude the investigation and file the chargesheet against lawyer Surendra Gadling and others in the case.

The Pune police arrested Gadling, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen, Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale, activist Mahesh Raut and Kerala native Rona Wilson in June for their alleged links with Maoists under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The arrests had followed raids at their residences and offices in connection with the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31 last year, which, the police had claimed, had led to violence at Bhima Koregaon the next day.

The police had also alleged that the conclave had the support of Maoists.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi considered the submissions of lawyer Nishant Katneshwar, appearing for the Maharashtra government, that the appeal needed to be heard on an urgent basis.

The lawyer said if the high court order is not stayed, then accused would become entitled for grant of statutory bail for want of non-filing of chargesheet within the stipulated period.

Under the UAPA, a charge sheet must be filed within 90 days of arrest. However, the prosecutor can file a report before the trial court, explaining the reasons for a delay, and seek more time. If satisfied, the court can extend the time by 90 days.

In the present case, the Pune sessions court had granted the police the additional 90 days, following an application from the investigating officer (IO) and written submissions by an assistant commissioner of police (ACP).

Gadling challenged this, saying the report and the submissions came from the police, not the prosecutor. Under the Act, the report should be filed by the prosecutor, he said.

The petition filed in the top court by the state government said the investigating officer had filed an application in the trial court under his signature giving reasons for extension of time on August 30, 2018.

"On the very same day, the public prosecutor submitted her report/application carving out the grounds for extension of time.The public prosecutor, by way of abundant precaution, took signature of the investigating officer. But the High Court was carried away by the fact of signature of the investigating officer and arrived at a conclusion that the report/application was not by the public prosecutor," the plea said.

It said the high court should not have been carried away by the fact of mentioning of names of the parties in detail.

The Pune Police arrested Gadling, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen, Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale, activist Mahesh Raut and Kerala native Rona Wilson in June for their alleged links with Maoists under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The arrests had followed raids at their residences and offices in connection with the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31 last year, which, the police had claimed, had led to violence at Bhima Koregaon the next day.

The police had also alleged that the conclave had the support of Maoists.

Under the UAPA, a charge sheet must be filed within 90 days of arrest. However, the prosecutor can file a report before the trial court, explaining the reasons for a delay, and seek more time. If satisfied, the court can extend the time by 90 days. 

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