The Supreme Court Monday directed the Maharashtra government to submit before it the charge sheet filed against arrested rights activists before a Pune court in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence case.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it wanted to see the “charges” against the accused and asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Maharashtra government, to submit before it by December 8 the charge sheet filed by the state police in a special court in Pune.
The bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, was hearing an appeal of the state government against a Bombay High Court order refusing to extend the time limit of 90 days for filing the probe report. The bench has now posted the appeal for further hearing on December 11.
Earlier the apex court had stayed the Bombay High Court order. Recently, the Bombay High Court had set aside the lower court’s order allowing extension of time to police to file its probe report against the rights activists.
Earlier, the apex court had refused to interfere with the arrest of five rights activists by the Maharashtra Police in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence case and declined to appoint a SIT for the probe into their arrest.
The Pune Police had arrested lawyer Surendra Gadling, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen, Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale, activist Mahesh Raut and Kerala native Rona Wilson in June for their alleged links with Maoists under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The arrests had followed raids at their residences and offices in connection with the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31 last year, which, the police had claimed, had led to violence at Bhima Koregaon the next day.
The Maharashtra government had on October 25 moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court order by which the extension of time granted to state police to conclude probe in the violence case was set aside.
Earlier, lawyer Nishant Katneshwar, appearing for the Maharashtra government, had told the top court that if the high court order is not stayed then accused in the violence case would become entitled for grant of statutory bail for want of non-filing of charge sheet within the stipulated period.
Under the UAPA, a charge sheet must be filed within 90 days of arrest. However, the prosecutor can file a report before the trial court, explaining the reasons for the delay, and seek more time. If satisfied, the court can extend the time by 90 days.
In the present case, the Pune sessions court had granted the police the additional 90 days, following an application from the investigating officer (IO) and written submissions by an assistant commissioner of police (ACP).
Gadling had challenged this, saying the report and the submissions came from the police, not the prosecutor. Under the Act, the report should be filed by the prosecutor, he said.
The petition filed in the top court by the state government said the investigating officer had filed an application in the trial court under his signature giving reasons for extension of time on August 30, 2018.
“On the very same day, the public prosecutor submitted her report/application carving out the grounds for extension of time. The public prosecutor, by way of abundant precaution, took the signature of the investigating officer. But the High Court was carried away by the fact of signature of the investigating officer and arrived at a conclusion that the report/application was not by the public prosecutor,” the plea had said.
It had also said that the high court should not have been carried away by the fact of mentioning of names of parties in detail.