Bhima Koregaon: SC reserves verdict on M'rashtra plea

Bhima Koregaon: SC reserves verdict on M'rashtra plea

The Supreme Court. File photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgement on a plea by the Maharashtra government challenging validity of the Bombay High Court's order that set aside granting additional 90 days to the Pune police to file charge sheet against five activists arrested in a case related to Bhima-Koregaon violence.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjay Kishan Kaul wrapped up the hearing in the matter as accused-activists Surendra Gadling and others contended that the application seeking additional time was filed by the investigating officer without due application of the mind by the public prosecutor as mandated under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Failure of the police to file charge sheet within stipulated 90 days time allowed the accused to seek default bail in a criminal case.

Maharashtra government, represented by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, contended that the application was duly approved and signed by the public prosecutor.

The activist-accused represented by senior advocates A M S Singhvi, Anand Grover and Indira Jaising, said the application for extension of time lacked proper and specific reasons and did not contain a report by the public prosecutor showing application of mind as per Section 43-D(2)(b) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Rohati said the application duly mentioned that the activist-accused were members of banned CPI (Maoist) and an investigation was to be carried out pan-India as there was not a single act of conspiracy. Jaising, for her part, pointed out Gadling was sought to be arrested in 2016 case though the apex court was seized up with the matter, in an attempt to nullify any possible relief.

The top court had earlier stayed the high court's order and the Maharashtra police had also subsequently filed its charge sheet in the matter.

The Pune police had arrested five activists Gadling, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut on the charges of being an active member of the banned organisation, CPI (Maoist), allegedly involved in activities threatening the unity and integrity of the country. The FIR in the case was lodged on January 8, 2018 on a complaint alleging inflammatory speeches and songs by the accused on December 31, 2017 resulting in violence in Bhima-Koregaon.