The Bombay High Court on Monday reserved judgement after conclusion of arguments in bail applications filed by activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Pune police's case against the said accused that they were involved in inciting caste-based violence at Koregaon Bhima in Pune on January 1, 2018.
Justice SV Kotwal started hearing the respective bail applications on August 26. The three applicants have been booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
Senior Counsel Mihir Desai appeared on behalf of Vernon Gonsalves, Dr.Yug Chaudhary for Sudha Bharadwaj and Sudeep Pasbola for Arun Ferreira.
APP Aruna Pai opposed the bail applications and alleged that Bharadwaj along with other accused, was actively involved with organisations like Indian Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL), Anuradha Gandhi Memorial Committee, Centre for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) and Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee which according to Pune police are frontal organisations of CPI(Maoist).
Pai stated that Bharadwaj was the Vice President of IAPL and had attended a meeting at Nagpur on March 19. However, on October 4, after APP Pai concluded her arguments in the case, a rejoinder was filed on behalf of Sudha Bharadwaj by Dr.Chaudhary. The rejoinder states that although the police had relied on emails by Arun Ferreira to substantiate their claim that Bharadwaj attended the said meeting on March 19, they have omitted details of a later email by Arun Ferreira which states that Bharadwaj did not attend the meeting.
Bharadwaj has been in Yerwada jail for over a year now, accused Shoma Sen is also at Yerwada.
Sudeep Pasbola told the bench that Ferreira is an activist and lawyer who worked for tribal rights. Ferreira, who spent 5 years in Nagpur jail after being booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, was acquitted in 12 cases that were registered against him.
Pasbola also refuted the allegation made by Pune police that Ferreira attended a meeting of IAPL in Kerala on December 9-10, 2017 which was held to commemorate the golden jubilee of the Naxalbari movement in India.
Police has not placed anything on record to prove that such a meeting or conference was held, Pasbola argued.
Whereas, Mihir Desai submitted that Gonsalves has been in jail for a year and the FIR filed by Pune police does not even mention his name. The police have only relied upon two undated, unsigned letters recovered from someone else's laptop; he argued.
Recently, the Supreme Court granted interim protection from arrest to journalist Gautam Navlakha, another accused in the case. Navlakha had challenged the judgement of Bombay High Court refusing to quash FIR against him in the said case.