The Pune city police on Friday submitted an application before a special court, seeking extension of 90 days for further investigation against four accused in the Elgaar Parishad case — activists Sudha Bharadwaj, P Varavara Rao, Arun Ferriera and Vernon Gonsalves.
All four were arrested along with Gautam Navlakha on August 28 under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and IPC, on charges that they were part of a larger conspiracy of the banned CPI-Maoist to form an “anti-fascist front” to overthrow the Indian government.
But all were later put under house arrest for four weeks as per a Supreme Court (SC) order dismissing a petition for an SIT probe in the case filed by Romila Thapar and others. Later, after the house arrest period ended and their bail applications were rejected, the police took Bharadwaj, Ferriera and Gonsalves into custody in October last week, while Varavara Rao was picked up from Telangana on November 17. Meanwhile, on October 1, following a Delhi High Court order, Navlakha was released.
The police are supposed to file the chargesheet against the accused within 90 days from the date of arrest. So, considering August 28 as the date of arrest of the four accused, the 90-day period will be over by November 25. So, on Friday, the investigating officer (IO), assistant commissioner of police Shivaji Pawar, submitted an application through district government pleader Ujjwala Pawar before special judge K D Vadane, saying “… because of the orders of the honourable SC and HC, the IO is not getting sufficient period for custodial interrogation of the accused. …if the total period from the date of arrest till today is considered, it may give an impression that the chargesheet could not be filed within the period of 90 days and as such the accused may try to misinterpret the provision and may try to claim the relief of bail by default. Therefore, without prejudice to the contention of the prosecutor that the period of house arrest which not in accordance with the provision of CrPC, it will have to be excluded from computation of the period of 90 days for filing the chargesheet.”
The application then states the ground for extending the detention of the accused: the “investigating officer has been running from pillar to post and was kept engaged in attending court matters arising out of the present crime, as such matters came before the SC, Bombay and Delhi HC as well as Telangana HC. Apart from this, the investigating officer could not get sufficient time to keep the accused under sustained interrogation.”
Further, the application mentions the allegations levelled against the four accused. The court will hear the application on November 26.
On November 15, the Pune city police filed a 5,160-page chargesheet before a special court in Pune against Sudhir Dhawale (49) of Mumbai, Rona Wilson (47) of Delhi, lawyer Surendra Gadling (50), Professor Shoma Sen (59) and former Prime Minister Rural Development (PMRD) fellow Mahesh Raut (30), all arrested in the Elgaar Parishad case on June 6, and five absconding Maoist operatives Milind Teltumbde, Prakash alias Ritupan Goswami, Manglu, Deepu and Kishan alias Prashanto Bose.
The police have so far booked 22 people, including Anand Teltumbde of Goa and Stan Swamy of Jharkhand. Navlakha, Teltumbde and Swamy have moved the Bombay HC, seeking quashing of the FIR lodged against them. On Thursday, the HC extended their interim protection from arrest till December 14.