Bhima-Koregaon case: HC denies bail to three activists
Justice Sarang Kotwal rejected their bail pleas, noticing that there was sufficient material and reasonable grounds to believe that the accusations made against the trio were prima facie true.Updated: Oct 16, 2019 03:46 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday denied bail to activists Sudha Bharadwaj, 57, Vernon Gonsalves, 61, and Arun Ferreira, 45, arrested by Pune Police in connection with the 2018 Bhima-Koregaon violence.
Justice Sarang Kotwal rejected their bail pleas, noticing that there was sufficient material and reasonable grounds to believe that the accusations made against the trio were prima facie true.
Police had alleged that Bharadwaj, Gonsalves, and Ferreira were active members of the banned terrorist organisation Communist Party of India (Maoist). The police sought to prove that they were part of a conspiracy through evidence in the form of written and electronic communications between like-minded persons, including other arrested accused in the case.
Lawyers for the activists, however, maintained that there was no incriminating evidence connecting them with the violence. They argued that the documents submitted as proof by the police were unsigned, undated and unverified, and therefore inadmissible as evidence.
Justice Kotwal rejected the argument, primarily given the Supreme Court (SC) ruling that validity of evidence collected by police cannot be scrutinised while considering bail pleas of accused persons booked under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The judge noted that literature seized by the police cited two of the important methods for achieving objectives of the banned organisation — to recruit cadres through student unions, and to provide military training to such cadres. Kotwal observed that all three applicants actively worked towards fulfilling these objectives.
While all of them were senior members of the banned organisation, Bharadwaj was also on its important committees. She was allegedly party to the suggestion that members be given “packages” similar to those given to Kashmiri separatists by other terrorist organisations. Documents collected by the police also showed that 45-year-old Ferreira actively worked to raise, manage and distribute funds for the CPI (Maoist).
The trio was arrested by Pune Police along with others in August 2018. However, on orders of the SC, they were kept under house arrest till October 27, 2018, when a special UAPA court at Pune rejected their pre-arrest bail pleas. The three were arrested the next day and have been behind bars since then.