Bhima Koregaon violence case: Supreme Court lists bail plea of Vernon Gonsalves for Wednesday

The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned hearing on the bail petition of academician Vernon Gonsalves, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the Elgar Parishad Maoist link case, for hearing on February 8.

The Bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia asked the Counsel appearing for the National Investigation Agency (NIA), as to why Gonsalves should not be granted bail, when he had already spent more than five years in jail.

The Counsel submitted that the accused was involved in serious offences, such as  participating in activities of banned organisations and having membership of such organisations. The lawyer sought time to file a counter affidavit in the case.  

The Apex Court then adjourned the hearing to February 8, while suggesting the NIA to set conditions for bail. 

On February 1, the Apex Court had adjourned the hearing to February 6, stating that there will not be any further adjournments in the case. 

The Apex Court had directed the NIA to take appropriate steps to separate the trial of Gonsalves from other absconding accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon case. The top court of the country further directed the NIA to issue fugitive offender notices for the absconding accused.

Supreme Court judge, Justice Dipankar Datta, had recused himself from hearing the bail applications of Bhima Koregaon case accused Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira on January 12. 

The petitions had challenged the Bombay High Court's refusal to grant them bail. As soon as the matter came up for hearing before the Division Bench of Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice Dipankar Datta, Justice Datta announced that he was recusing.

Earlier on December 16, 2022, the Bench led by Justice Ravindra Bhat had posted Vernon's bail application for hearing in January.

Gonsalves had moved the Apex Court against the Bombay High Court order that denied him bail.

In May last year, the Bombay High Court had refused to grant default bail to Varavara Rao, Ferreira and Gonsalves in the Bhima Koregaon case.

NIA had arrested Gonsalves on August 28, 2018 on charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). He has remained in a Pune jail since.

Senior Advocate Rebecca John, appearing for Gonsalves, had submitted that three statements allegedly incriminating him were recovered from the laptops of other accused and were not related to him.

(Case title: Vernon vs State of Maharashtra and ors)