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New Delhi: Eight activists and academics currently in jail in the Elgar Parishad case, who were denied default bail by the Bombay high court earlier this month, have approached the high court on Tuesday, seeking a correction in the relevant order. They said that they had in fact exercised their right to default bail within the stipulated period.
Sudhir Dawale, Varavara Rao, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira have approached the high court claiming its order denying them default bail was based on a “factual error”.
They filed an application seeking correction and it was taken up for hearing on Tuesday.
On December 1, a bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and N.J. Jamadar had granted default bail to Sudha Bharadwaj on the ground that the Pune sessions court, that had allowed extension of time to the police for filing a charge-sheet after the mandatory 90 days, did not have the jurisdiction to do so.
At the time, the bench had rejected the same relief for the eight of Bharadwaj’s co-accused in the case who have now moved the high court for default bail.
The bench had said these eight persons had not exercised their right to seek default bail in time. It had observed that while Bharadwaj had filed a plea before the Pune court seeking default bail as soon as the 90-day period for filing of the charge-sheet got over, these eight had delayed filing of their applications.
The Elgar Parishad case was earlier with the Pune police and it is now being handled by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
On Tuesday, however, the eight accused persons told the bench through their counsel R. Sathyanarayanan that its judgment denying them default bail was based on a “factual error”. They said that Dhawale, Wilson, Gadling, Sen, and Raut had filed default bail pleas before the Pune sessions court on September 26, 2018, after the 90 days period of their arrest got over and the charge-sheet remained to be filed.
They said they were arrested on July 6, 2018, and the first charge-sheet against them was filed only on November 15, 2018. They filed their default bail pleas in time, but the same are still pending hearing before the sessions court, they said.
Gonsalves, Rao and Ferriera told the high court they had applied for default bail on November 30, 2018, just four days after Bharadwaj filed her application before the Pune court.
They told the high court the Pune sessions court had rejected their default bail applications along with Bharadwaj’s similar plea through a common order passed on November 6, 2019.
It was this November 6 order that the high court bench of Justice Shinde had set aside on December 1 in Bharadwaj’s case, they maintained.
“The date of arrest of the accused (Gonsalves, Rao, Ferriera and Bharadwaj) being the same and all the accused had preferred application for default and hence are at par. The accused (Gonsalves, Rao and Ferriera) have been denied same relief accorded to Sudha Bharadwaj on account of a factual error,” their plea in the high court reads.
As per law, once the maximum period, that is, 60, 90 or 180 days from arrest, provided for an investigation in a case is over and no charge-sheet is filed, the accused becomes entitled to be released on bail, which is called the default bail.
The high court will hear the matter further on December 23.
(With PTI inputs)