Bhima Koregaon violence case: Justice Bharati Dhangre of Bombay HC recuses from hearing bail plea of Mahesh Raut, others

Justice Bharati Dhangre of Bombay High Court on Thursday recused herself  from hearing the default bail petitions of Mahesh Raut and three others, who were arrested for their alleged involvement in the Elgar Parishad Maoists links case of 2018.

Earlier on March 1, the High Court had issued notice to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the default bail plea of Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson, who were arrested on June 6, 2018 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The Division Bench of Justice A.S. Gadkari and Justice P.D. Naik directed the Central agency to file its response within three weeks.

On December 31, 2017, an event was held in Shaniwar Wada of Pune under the banner of Elgaar Parishad to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima, during which several people delivered speeches. 

Pune Police later filed an FIR, alleging that provocative speeches delivered during the event led to violent clashes in the area, in which one person lost his life.

On April 29 last year, Dhawale, Raut and Dr Anand Teltumbde had moved the Special Court under the National Investigation Agency (NIA), seeking discharge from all charges against them in the 2018 case.

Dhawale, owner of a Marathi left-leaning publication and prime accused in the case, had contended that he should be discharged as his only contribution was having lent his name to the Elgar Parishad event with some other organisers, including retired judges Justice P.B. Sawant and Justice B.G. Kolse Patil.

Dhawale claimed that he was among the various speakers at the and his arrest had come after a complaint was lodged against him, almost after a week after the event.

He said that during the speech, he had called for the protection of democracy and peaceful resistance, which came under his fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.