SC setback for first activists held in Bhima Koregaon case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside an October 2018 Bombay High Court order that granted “default bail” to lawyer Surendra Gadling, former Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen, activists Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut and Rona Wilson in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case.

The accused were granted default bail by the Bombay High Court after the Pune police, which had arrested them in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence, was unable to complete investigations and file a chargesheet within the stipulated period of 90 days under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

A three-judge bench of the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L Nageshwar Rao and Justice S K Kaul on Wednesday held that the accused can now seek regular bail from the trial court as the Maharashtra police have filed the charge sheet.

The Maharashtra government had filed two petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the high court order refusing to give 90 days’ extension to the police for filing the chargesheet and granting default bail to the accused.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Maharashtra government, said there was sufficient material with the police to seek an extension of time to investigate the case further.

The Maharashtra Police alleged, the accused had held a meeting where active members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) supposedly raised inflammatory slogans and engaged in certain other “allied activities, with the intention to conspire, incite and abet the commission of terrorist acts and other unlawful activities by using violent means,” leading to the Bhima Koregaon violence on January 1 last year.

Dalits gather at Bhima Koregaon, near Pune, every New Year’s Day to commemorate the 1818 victory of lower-caste Mahar soldiers in the British Army over the forces of the Brahmin Peshwa-led Maratha Empire.

First Published: Feb 14, 2019 00:33 IST

Updated: February 14, 2019 — 2:50 am