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Submit chargesheet of Koregaon-Bhima case by Dec 8: SC to Maharashtra govt

The Maharashtra government had on October 25 moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court order

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

supreme court
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the to submit before it by December 8 the "gist" of allegations and the charge sheet filed against arrested rights activists in the Koregaon-Bhima violence case.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it wanted to see the "charges" against the accused, who are in jail since their arrest in June this year.

It asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Maharashtra government, to submit the gist of allegations and the translated version of the charge sheet filed by the state police in a special court at Pune on or before December 8.

The bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, took note of the submission of senior lawyer Indira Jaising that the state police has foisted another criminal case on accused Surendra Pundlik Gadling and asked the state government to provide the details of that matter.

It said: "Charge-sheet filed against the accused - respondents along with translated copy thereof and a gist of the allegations made therein be filed on or before Saturday next that is December 8. The matter will be considered on Tuesday next that is December 11.

"Indira Jaising, senior counsel appearing for the accused respondent...Gadling submits that another case has been lodged against the said respondent Gadling. Particulars of the said case including the complaint/FIR, as may be, be also filed."

The top court was hearing an appeal of the state government against a Bombay High Court order refusing to extend the time limit of 90 days by another 90 days for filing the probe report in the violence case.

The apex court had earlier stayed the Bombay High Court order.

At the outset, Rohatgi on Monday assailed the High Court order setting aside the lower court's decision to grant 90 days more time to the police to probe and file the charge sheet in the case.

He said the statutory time limit for filing the charge sheet in heinous offences is 90 days and this period can be extended by another 90 days by the trial court if the investigating officer (IO) and the public Prosecutor move for the same.

"The offences alleged are grave and charges are serious and the High Court cannot reject such cases on technical grounds," Rohatgi said, adding that the accused do have to right to seek bail, but the plea of prosecuting agency and the police cannot be dismissed on technical aspects alone.

He also said in any case, the charge sheet in the matter has already been filed much before the expiry of 180 days.

The Bombay High Court had recently set aside the lower court's order allowing extension of time to police to file its probe report against the rights activists.

The apex court had earlier 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 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 claimed, had led to violence at Bhima Koregaon the next day.

The 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 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.

First Published: Mon, December 03 2018. 20:15 IST