Fifty-four accused in the Palghar mob lynching cases in which two sadhus were killed by a huge mob, were on Thursday granted bail by a sessions court in Thane district.
District Judge P P Jadhav of Thane Sessions Court granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 15,000 each, and a surety.
Those granted bail include 8 who were arrested immediately after the incident, and the rest who were subsequently picked up.
Defence lawyers Amrut Adhikari and Atul Patil, representing the accused farmers or tribals, argued in the that their clients were not involved in the lynching incident and had been arrested merely on grounds of suspicion.
The Pune-headquartered State CID has filed three separate charge sheets in the case and so far, arrested a total of 238 accused including 11 minors.
Of these, 77 adult accused including 9 minors have been granted bail, while another 135 accused are reported to be absconding.
Special Public Prosecutor Satish Maneshinde represented the CID while advocate PN Ojha appeared on behalf of the families of the deceased sadhus.
Two sadhus, Kalpavriksha Giri Maharaj (70 years), Sushil Giri Maharaj (35) and their driver Nilesh Telgade (30), were brutally lynched to death on the night of 16 April in the Gadchinchale village in Dahanu tehsil of Palghar district, nearly 120 km from downtown Mumbai.
For four days before the incident, there were rumours that robbers had come to the village to steal kidneys, particularly of children, and sell them in the black market. This led to the villagers mounting a round-the-clock vigil. The sadhus and their driver were attacked by a group of nearly 500 villagers who suspected them to be kidnappers.
The two Nashik-based sadhus belonged to the Varanasi-headquartered Shri Panch Dashnam Juna Akhara, the biggest order of sadhus in India.
The case was handed over to the State-CID from the Palghar police after there was furore with the BJP attacking the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government demanding a CBI probe into the incident.