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Bombay High Court order refusing to grant 90 day extension to Maharashtra police for filing chargesheet could have helped activists get bail

Five activists arrested last year in connection with their alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon caste violence will not be able to get benefit default bail for now as the Supreme Court, on Wednesday (February 13) set aside a Bombay High Court order which had refused to grant a 90 days extension to the Maharashtra Police to file its charge sheet against them.

The five activists, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Rout, Roma Wilson and Soma Sen, could have got default bail had the Bombay High Court order been upheld by the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday. The activists will now have to move the trial court again seeking regular bail.

The Bombay High Court had quashed an earlier order passed by the trial court which granted the Maharashtra police a 90 day extension to file its chargesheet against the activists under the Unlawful Prevention Activities Act. As per the Code of Criminal Procedure, accused are entitled to get default bail if a chargesheet is not filed against them within 90 days of arrest. Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhavale and Mahesh Raut have been under custody since June 2018 after being arrested for alleged Maoist links and involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence.

On August 30, 2018, the Maharashtra Police had sought to extend the detention by another 90 days by invoking Section 43-D of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against the accused. The provision allows for an extension of detention beyond the prescribed period of 90 days if the court is satisfied that additional time is needed for completion of the investigation.

The activists were arrested from various locations in August 2018 for their alleged role in instigating caste violence in Maharashtra’s Bhima Koregaon village on January 1, 2018.

The Pune special trial court had, on September 2 last year, extended the duration of custody of Gadling and the others by 90 days. The activists had then moved the Bombay High Court, which on November 7, quashed the trial court’s order.

The Maharashtra police had appealed against the Bombay High Court order in the Supreme Court. The apex court, on January 10, had reserved its verdict on the appeal.

— India Legal Bureau

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