New Delhi: The Bombay high court on Tuesday rejected the bail applications filed by Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira.
The three were arrested on August 28, 2018 in connected with the violence against Dalits at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018, and the Pune police has alleged that they have Maoist links. They have been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The rights activists have denied these charges, and several people have said that their arrests, as well as that of others named in the case, is part of the government’s crackdown on those who dissent.
Justice S.V. Kotwal had begun hearing the bail please on August 26 this year and reserved his judgment on October 7. According to LiveLaw, the court heard arguments at length over the period of one month, which is unusual for a bail application.
Mihir Desai, who appeared for Gonsalves, argued that his client’s name was not in the FIR filed by the Pune police and yet he had spent a year in jail. Yug Choudhury, appearing for Bharadwaj, said none of the “evidence” the police provided was admissible in court. He had alleged that the documents they were citing were not, in fact, found on her computer.
Arun Ferreira’s lawyer Subhash Pashola told the court that his client is an activist who fights for Adivasi rights. Ferreira has been arrested under the UAPA in the past as well, and spent five years in jail before being acquitted from all the cases against him.
Aruna Pai, the additional public prosecutor on the case, opposed the three activists’ bail pleas and said that they had links with banned organisations.
Recently, the Supreme Court granted interim protection from arrest to Gautam Navlakha, another accused in the case, till October 15. The Bombay high court had earlier refused to quash the FIR against Navlakha, saying, “Considering the magnitude of the case, we feel a thorough investigation is required.”