The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended till October 5 the stay imposed by the Bombay High Court on an order granting bail to forest rights activist Mahesh Raut in the Bhima Koregaon case, reported Live Law.
A bench comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi passed the order on an appeal filed by the National Investigation Agency challenging the High Court’s bail order.
Raut was granted bail on September 21 on the grounds that there was no material to support the accusations levelled against him that attracted sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
However, the agency has claimed that there was evidence to show that Raut had links to banned Maoist outfits. His bail order was stayed for a week by the Bombay High Court after it sought time to file an appeal.
Appearing for the agency on Wednesday, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju reiterated that there was incriminating evidence suggesting links between Raut and banned Maoist outfits. He urged the court to extend the stay on his bail. “One more week will not make much difference,” he said.
In response, senior advocate Mihir Desai, appearing for Raut, said that the activist has already been in jail for over 5.5 years. He also submitted that the Supreme Court’s July judgement stating that there was no credible case of conspiracy to commit offences by activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira would also apply to Raut.
But the bench agreed to the agency’s request.
Raut was arrested in June 2018 in a case pertaining to caste violence that broke out in Bhima Koregaon village near Pune. He was accused of spreading Maoist ideology and encouraging unlawful activities. The National Investigation Agency has also accused him of providing funds to banned organisations.
He is among the 16 persons accused of involvement in the case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Five of them – Ferreira, Gonsalves, Anand Teltumbde, Varavara Rao and Sudha Bharadwaj – have been granted bail, while Gautam Navlakha is under house arrest. Another accused person – tribal rights activist Stan Swamy – died while in custody in July 2021.