Bhima Koregaon: SC sets aside order refusing extra time

Bhima Koregaon: SC sets aside order refusing extra time

The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside the Bombay High Court’s order of October 24, 2018 that refused extra time beyond the statutory 90-day period to Pune police for filing charge sheet in the Bhima Koregaon violence case.

The top court’s order is significant as it would disentitle the accused to seek default bail.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, however, noted the report filed by the public prosecutor for seeking extension of time beyond 90 days period and seeking extension of custody left “something to be desired”.

“Undoubtedly the request of an Investigating Officer for extension of time is not a substitute for the report of the public prosecutor but since we find that there has been, as per the comparison of the two documents, an application of mind by the public prosecutor as well as an endorsement by him, the infirmities in the form should not entitle the respondents to the benefit of a default bail when in substance there has been an application of mind,” the judgement authored by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on behalf of the bench, also comprising Justice L Nageswara Rao, stated.

The top court also did not find any merit in the contention of the accused that the grounds raised for seeking extension of time in the application were not sufficient to meet the requirement under Section 43D(2)(b) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

It however, said since the charge sheet in the present case was filed on November 15, 2018, within the extended period of 90 days, it was open for the accused to seek bail from the competent court. Notably, the apex court had earlier stayed the Bombay High Court order on an appeal filed by the Maharashtra government.

The Pune police had arrested lawyer Surendra 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 in an FIR lodged on January 8, 2018 following the riots at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.