New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave no relief to five activists named in the Bhima Koregaon caste violence case, as it set aside a Bombay High Court order not allowing another 90 days to the Maharashtra Police to file the charge sheet against the accused.
“Undoubtedly the request of an investigating officer for extension of time is not a substitute for a report of the public prosecutor but since we find that there has been, as per the comparison of two documents, an application of mind by the public prosecutor as well as endorsement by him, the infirmities in the form should not entitle the benefit of default bail to the accused when in substance, there has been an application of mind,” the bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said.
Speaking for the bench, Justice Kaul noted that the the detailed grounds certainly fall with the category of “compelling reasons” for the extension of time.
“We are, thus not able to persuade ourselves to agree with the conclusion of the single judge of Bombay High Court in the impugned order and hold that respondents (five accused activists) would not be entitled to the benefit of default bail…”
Noting that since the charge sheet in the case has already been filed, the court, however, said that none of its observations would, in any manner, affect the rights of the five to seek regular bail from trial court and this would be decided on its own merits.
The five accused are Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Rout, Rona Wilson and Soma Sen. They were arrested from various locations in August 2018 for their alleged role in instigating caste violence in Maharashtra’s Bhima Koregaon village on January 1, 2018.
The Maharashtra Police had alleged that all the accused were the members of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist and were having direct nexus with the unlawful activities of the banned organisations.
A trial court had, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, granted the state police an additional 90 days time to file a charge sheet that was beyond the 90-day deadline under the Code of Criminal Procedure and also Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The five accused had claimed default bail as state police failed to file charge sheet, under the provisions of Section 43D of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The Bombay High Court by its October 24, 2018 order, had ruled in their favour by holding that the public prosecutor “could not be said to have applied his mind and, thus the mandatory requirement of the clause (b) of subsection (2) of Section 43D was not met.”
This was relating to application seeking another 90 days for filing the charge sheet.