Rights

Bhima Koregaon Case: Police Gets More Time to File Supplementary Chargesheet

Rights activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferriera, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha, accused of having Maoist links, were arrested on August 28.

Pune: A court here on Monday, November 26, granted 90-day extension to the Pune police for filing a supplementary charge sheet against rights activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferriera, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case.

The four, and another activist Gautam Navlakha, accused of having Maoist links, were arrested on August 28 following multi-state raids by the Pune Police.

However, on the directions of the Supreme Court, all the five were put under house arrest in their respective cities.

Later, as the period of house arrest got over and the apex court refused to grant further relief to the accused, police arrested all of them except Gautam Navlakha.

The four activists are now under judicial custody.

A charge sheet has already been filed in the case against activists Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale (who were arrested in June) and five “underground” Maoist leaders.

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District and Sessions Judge Kishor D. Vadane Monday allowed the plea of the Pune police seeking 90-day extension in filing the supplementary charge-sheet.

The prosecution had earlier moved an application before the court seeking extension on the ground that sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) have been applied in the case.

Under the IPC, a charge-sheet has to be filed within 90 days of arrest of an accused. But under the UAPA, an extension of 90 days can be obtained from the court.

Public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar, while seeking extension for filing the supplementary charge sheet, argued that the accused were were not interrogated when they were under house arrest.

She said the investigating officer, ACP Shivaji Pawar, was busy handling the case in the district court, then in the Bombay high court and the Supreme Court.

Hence, he needs more time to investigate the case which is of serious nature, the public prosecutor said.

Also read: The State Is Using the ‘Maoist’ Label to Muzzle Liberal Criticism

She said the police have recovered vast amount of electronic data during the probe and intercepted coded communication between one of the accused with Maoist cadre.

All these need forensic examination and enforcement agencies will take some time to analyse those, she said.

Defence lawyers opposed the extension plea, asking what had stopped police to interrogate the accused while they were in their custody.

After hearing both sides, Judge Vadane accepted the police plea.

According to police, Maoists had backed the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31 last year.

The provocative speeches made at the gathering allegedly led to violence at Koregaon Bhima in Pune district the next day.

(PTI)