The Supreme Court on Monday stayed a Bombay High Court order declining an extension to the Maharashtra Police to file its chargesheet against five activists it had arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case, PTI reported.
The activists were arrested on June 6 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which requires a chargesheet to be filed within 90 days of arrest. A special court in Pune granted the police 90 more days two days before the deadline was to expire. The Bombay High Court quashed the order on October 24, prompting the Maharashtra government to move the top court.
The Pune court had given the police more time based on a request from the investigating officer and an assistant commissioner of police. One of the arrest activists, Surendra Gadling, challenged this in the Bombay High Court, saying the request came from the police and not the prosecutor, as is required by the law, PTI reported. The court agreed, but stayed the implementation of its order till November 1 in case the state government wanted to move the Supreme Court.
On Monday, the top court stayed the High Court order and issued notices to activists – Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale. Five more activists were arrested on August 28 and subsequently placed under house arrest.
The police have accused them 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.
Notice to Gautam Navlakha
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also issued a notice to activist Gautam Navlakha after the Maharashtra government challenged a Delhi High Court order quashing his transit remand and house arrest. Navlakha was among the five activists arrested in the same case on August 28. On October 1, the Delhi High Court said Navlakha’s detention was untenable by law and ended his house arrest immediately. It had also rejected the Maharashtra Police’s petition to extend his house arrest by at least two days.
On Friday, the Bombay High Court had restrained the police from arresting Navlakha until November 1. Last month, the Supreme Court had extended the house arrest of the second set of five activists by four weeks.