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8 co-accused of Sudha Bharadwaj failed to file default bail pleas on time: HC

The eight accused who were denied default bail include Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, who were arrested on June 6, 2018, and P Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, who were arrested on August 28, 2018.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: December 2, 2021 3:29:09 pm
Lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj (File)

While granting Sudha Bharadwaj default bail on Wednesday, holding that the Sessions Court that took cognizance of her plea in the Elgaar Parishad case and extended the time to file a chagesheet was incompetent to do so, the High Court rejected the pleas of the eight co-accused.

A Division Bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice N J Jamadar held that the right of the eight accused to be released on default bail was “extinguished” as they had failed to move the plea before the chargesheet was filed against them.

As per Section 167 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), an accused has an ‘indefeasible right’ to default bail if the investigating agency fails to complete the investigation on time. An accused can apply for the bail both after the expiry of the initial period of 90 days to file the chargesheet and before the lodging of the chargesheet.

The eight accused who were denied default bail include Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, who were arrested on June 6, 2018, and P Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, who were arrested on August 28, 2018.

The court noted that the six accused arrested in June 2018 did not avail of the right to seek default bail before the chargesheet was filed against them on November 15, 2018. The other three, arrested in August 2018, similarly failed to file it before the chargesheet was lodged against them on February 21, 2019.

The applicants had filed the pleas for default bail on May 17, 2019, and June 21, 2019, respectively. The same were rejected by the Pune Sessions Court on September 5, 2019. and November 6, 2019.

Hence, the court observed: “Though we have held that the order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge (Pune) on November 26, 2018, was without jurisdiction, yet the said declaration is of no assistance to the applicants.”

It added, “Resultantly, a crucial condition of ‘availing of’ the right (to default bail) so as to cement it as an indefeasible right, has not been fulfilled and the right stood extinguished by the fling of the charge-sheet.”

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