Bhima Koregaon : Reasons Cited By Bombay HC For Denial Of Bail To Activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves & Arun Ferreira [Read Judgment]

Bhima Koregaon : Reasons Cited By Bombay HC For Denial Of Bail To Activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves & Arun Ferreira [Read Judgment]

Rejecting bail applications by activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, Justice SV Kotwal observed that there was prima facie evidence that all three-applicant accused were active members of CPI(Maoist), a banned organisation, which attracts Section 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The Court cited a notification dated June 22, 2009 whereby in exercise of the powers under Section 35(1) of the UAPA, the Central Government made an order to add the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and all its formations and front organizations as terrorist organization in the Schedule to the UAPA by making corresponding amendment.

All three applicants were arrested on August 28, 2018 and have been accused under Sections 121, 121A, 124A, 153A, 505(1)(b), 117, 120B read with 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1872 and under Sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 18B, 20, 38, 39, 40 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, as amended in 2008 and 2012.

Prosecution's Submissions

APP Aruna Pai told the Court that Indian Association of Peoples Lawyers (IAPL) was a frontal organization of CPI(Maoist) and the applicants were working through this frontal organization to accomplish the objects of the banned organization CPI(Maoist) i.e. destabilizing the country. The charge sheet mentions a few more organizations, like, Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Committee (AGMC), Kabir Kala Manch, Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC) as the frontal organizations of CPI(Maoist). It was alleged that the members of CPI(Maoist) were using these organizations to further their purpose.

Sudha Bharadwaj is the Vice President of IAPL and Arun Ferreira, is the treasurer, Gonsalves is also a member.

Several documents were relied upon by the prosecution to substantiate the allegations. Many letters either allegedly written by the accused or mentioning the accused addressed to other members of CPI(Maoist) were relied upon by the prosecution.

Observations

Regarding allegations against Sudha Bharadwaj, Justice Kotwal observed-

"I am inclined to agree with Mrs. Pai's submission that the document shows that the applicant was a senior active member of the banned organization because she was entrusted with such high responsibility (of recruiting cadres).

The investigating agency has material to show prima facie that the applicant is a senior active member of the banned organization and she was on important committees of the Party. She was a party to the suggestion that members be given packages similar to the packages given to Kashmiri separatists by different terrorist organizations"

Whereas, referring to the role of Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, Court noted -

"One of the important tasks was to raise, manage and distribute the funds in the banned organization and there is material in the charge-sheet to show that prima facie the applicant had actively worked towards fulfilling that responsibility."

Reasoning

Justice Kotwal passed three separate orders in the case, but the following reasoning was common to all three-

(i) The Party CPI(Maoist) is included in the Schedule of the UAPA vide notification dated 22.6.2009.

(ii) The literature of the banned organization mentions its objectives and possible methods to achieve these objectives. Two of the important methods are recruiting cadres from urban masses through Student Unions and providing military training to such cadres.

(iii) Important Party members were entrusted with the responsibility of recruiting cadres. The applicants were involved in recruiting cadres.

(iv) One of the objectives of the banned organization was defeating 'enemy forces' with the use of weapons and by forming people's army.

(v) The banned organization was using firearms and lethal weapons.

(vi) The State armed forces were treated as 'enemy forces'.

(vii) Learned Special Judge, Pune under UAPA has rightly considered the material before him while rejecting the applicant's bail application.

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