Bhima Koregaon: SC to Hear Maharashtra Govt's Plea Challenging Bombay HC Order

The Bombay high court had quashed the lower court's decision by which the Maharashtra Police was granted more time to conclude the investigation.

New Delhi: The Maharashtra government on Thursday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay high court order by which the extension of time granted to state police to conclude the probe into the Bhima Koregaon violence was set aside.

The high court on Wednesday had quashed the lower court’s decision by which the Maharashtra police was granted more time to conclude the investigation and file the chargesheet against lawyer Surendra Gadling and others in the case. Several rights activist had been accused of instigating the violence.

Also read: Activists Arrest: Bombay HC Sets Aside Pune Court Order, Paves Way For Chance of Bail

The Pune police arrested 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 (UAPA).

The arrests had followed raids at their residences and offices in connection with the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31 last year, which, the police had claimed, had led to violence at Bhima Koregaon the next day.

The police had also alleged that the conclave had the support of Maoists.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi considered the submissions of lawyer Nishant Katneshwar, appearing for the Maharashtra government, that the appeal needed to be heard on an urgent basis.

The lawyer said if the high court order is not stayed, then accused would become entitled for grant of statutory bail for want of non-filing of chargesheet within the stipulated period.

The bench, which also comprises Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph, said the appeal of the Maharashtra government would be heard on October 26.

Under the UAPA, a chargesheet must be filed within 90 days of arrest. However, the prosecutor can file a report before the trial court, explaining the reasons for a delay, and seek more time. If satisfied, the court can extend the time by 90 days.

Also read: Why Justice Chandrachud Thinks an SIT, Not Maha Police, Should Probe Bhima Koregaon Case

In the present case, the Pune sessions court had granted the police the additional 90 days, following an application from the investigating officer (IO) and written submissions by an assistant commissioner of police (ACP).

Gadling challenged this, saying the report and the submissions came from the police, not the prosecutor. Under the Act, the report should be filed by the prosecutor, he said.

The petition filed in the top court by the state government said the investigating officer had filed an application in the trial court under his signature giving reasons for extension of time on August 30, 2018.

“On the very same day, the public prosecutor submitted her report/application carving out the grounds for extension of time.The public prosecutor, by way of abundant precaution, took signature of the investigating officer. But the High Court was carried away by the fact of signature of the investigating officer and arrived at a conclusion that the report/application was not by the public prosecutor,” the plea said.

It said the high court should not have been carried away by the fact of mentioning of names of the parties in detail.