The Bombay High Court on Wednesday quashed a special court’s order granting the police an extension of 90 days to file a chargesheet against five activists – Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale – arrested on June 6 in connection with the violence in Bhima Koregaon.
The High Court also stayed the implementation of its order till November 1 in case the Maharashtra government wants to move the Supreme Court. The five people can apply for bail after that.
Justice Mridula Bhatkar struck down the special court’s order saying the public prosecutor had not filed a report regarding the progress in the investigation. The session judge’s order had violated Section 43D of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the High Court said. This provision allows a court to extend the custody of the accused beyond 90 days if it is not possible to complete the investigation in that period and if the court is satisfied with the report of the public prosecutor on the investigation’s status and the specific reasons for extending the detention period.
The police have accused the activists of being members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and have claimed they were involved in the Elgar Parishad event in Pune on December 31 that was followed by caste-related violence in Bhima Koregaon the following day. The police had told the special court that the extra time was required because they have voluminous amounts of data and additional seized material that need to be investigated.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court declined an urgent hearing of a review petition challenging the decision to not order an inquiry into the arrests of five other activists, who were detained in connection with the case in August.