25 Feb 2022 11:48 AM GMT
After two judges recused themselves from hearing petitions arising out of the Bhima Koregaon – Elgar Parishad Case, Chief Justice Dipankar Datta of the Bombay high Court said a third bench would be constituted to hear the cases at the earliest. After Justice PB Varale's bench, that has the criminal assignment, recused from hearing matters earlier this month, the alternate bench...
After two judges recused themselves from hearing petitions arising out of the Bhima Koregaon – Elgar Parishad Case, Chief Justice Dipankar Datta of the Bombay high Court said a third bench would be constituted to hear the cases at the earliest.
After Justice PB Varale's bench, that has the criminal assignment, recused from hearing matters earlier this month, the alternate bench of Justice SS Shinde also recused from taking up petitions connected to the case.
Justice Shinde, however, will hear the interim application filed by Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Varavara Rao seeking bail and factual corrections in his order refusing them default bail.
On Friday, Senior Advocate Anand Grover assisted by Advocate R Satyanarayan mentioned the issue before the Chief Justice on behalf of Telugu poet and accused Varavara Rao. Advocate Devyani Kulkarni appeared for accused Anand Teltumbde.
Grover sought for a new bench to be constituted at the earliest as the interim relief granted by Justice Shinde's bench, extending Rao's time to surrender before prison authorities was coming to an end on Monday, February 28, 2022. Rao filed an application to extend the six months temporary medical bail granted to him in February, last year.
The CJ agreed to pass an administrative order most likely by the end of the day, assigning matters to a new bench.
Rao's application was to be listed for hearing today. However, according to praecipe submitted by advocates, the criminal department, informed his counsels that bench of Justice SS Shinde and NR Borkar have recused themselves from hearing matter and notice/ directions have been issued to that effect.
"The said interim Order needs to be extended failing which the applicant (Rao) would have to surrender. The Applicant (Rao) is 83 years old, suffering from multiple medical complications and the above applications are for extension of bail on medical grounds." the praecipe stated.
As for Teltumbde, his application seeking 14 days temporary bail to visit his 90-year-old mother, after his brother's killing in an encounter, is pending since December 2021. An appeal against rejection of his bail plea by the Special NIA court, and another writ petition challenging his prosecution under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act are also pending.
Petitions filed by co-accused Rona Wilson and Shoma Sen against their prosecution under UAPA are also pending adjudication. Justice Shinde's bench had already begun hearing the matter last year after which there was a change in assignment.
Wilson has sought formation of a Special Investigation Team to inquire into the planting of fabricated documents on his computer over a course of around 22 months based on which the accused were arrested.
It may be noted that it was Justice Shinde's bench that granted bail to Rao and Bharadwaj.
The National Investigation Agency booked 16 civil liberties activists under sections 121, 121A, 124A, 153A, 505(1)(b), 117, 120b r/w 34 of the IPC and sections 13,16,17,18,18-B,20,38,39 and 40 of the UAPA. Father Stan Swamy, the 16th accused to be arrested, passed away on July 5, before his bail hearing.
The NIA has accused them of a plot to overthrow the Government, being members of front organisations of the banned CPI(Maoists). However, the arrested activists claim that incriminating material was planted on Gadling and co-accused researcher Rona Wilson's laptop, based on an independent forensic analysis by Arsenal Consulting.
They blamed the activists for furthering the CPI(Maoist) agenda and causing the caste violence at the Bhima Koregaon war memorial on January 1, 2018.
Apart from Bharadwaj and Rao (granted bail on medical grounds), all the accused are still in prison.