Bhima Koregaon: SC stays Bombay HC order

Bhima Koregaon: SC stays Bombay HC order

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi stayed the Bombay High Court order, which had set aside the lower court's verdict allowing extension of time to the police to file the probe report against the rights activists arrested in the case. (DH File Ph

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Bombay High Court's judgement that set aside an order granting additional 90 days to the Pune police to file charge sheet against five activists arrested on June 6 in a case related to Bhima-Koregaon violence.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph issued a notice to accused Surendra Gadling and others on a petition filed by Maharashtra government.

The state government was represented by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, A M Singhvi, Indira Jaising and Raju Ramachandran appeared for the accused, belonging to left-wing organisation.

“Until further orders, there shall be stay of the impugned judgment of October 24,” the bench said.

With the top court's order, the accused cannot seek default bail as investigation could not be completed within the statutory period of 90 days.

Advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar challenged the validity of the high court order of October 24 on behalf of the state government, saying it had “resorted to pedantic view rather than resorting to pragmatic view”. According to the proviso of Section 43-D(2)(b) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act the court should be satisfied with a report of the public prosecutor on progress of investigation and can allow detention of the accused beyond a period of 90 days.

Despite the public prosecutor having given a report on August 30, the high court was “carried away” by the signature of investigating officer to conclude it was not endorsed by the public prosecutor.

The Pune police had arrested five activists Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut on the charges of being active member of 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 on a complaint alleging inflammatory speeches and songs by the accused on December 31, last resulting in violence in Bhima-Koregaon.

On September 2, the special judge had extended the period of investigation by additional 90 days. On a challenge by the accused, the high court set aside the order, which may now enable the accused to seek default bail.

Meanwhile, the top court on Monday issued notice to another activist Gautam Navlakha on a plea by the Maharashtra government, challenging the Delhi High Court that had quashed transit remand against him. It put both the matters for hearing on November 16.

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