The Bombay High Court on Tuesday dismissed the bail pleas of Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves in the Bhima Koregaon case.
Justice SV Kotwal pronounced the judgement to a packed courtroom with Senior Advocate Mihir Desai, Dr.Yug Mohit Chaudhary and Sudeep Pasbola present for the accused applicants.
Justice Kotwal began hearing the bail applications on August 26 and reserved the judgement on October 7. Court heard the submissions at length for over one month, which is uncharacteristically long for bail pleas.
All three accused have been booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code by the Pune police which has accused them of inciting the caste-based violence which took place at Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 2018.
Mihir Desai appeared on behalf of Vernon Gonsalves, he argued 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; Desai said.
Dr.Yug Chaudhary appeared for Sudha Bharadwaj who has been in Pune's Yerwada Central Jail since last October. Chaudhary submitted –
"On merits of the case, I have one contention, there is not a single document that is admissible in law. All the documents are printouts not originals. According to the prosecution, letters relied upon by them have not been generated from the computer they were recovered from, instead they have been copied on the hard drive of the accused.
Which means that they do not have the original copy of a single document. All the documents are typed so they cannot be linked to me by handwriting analysis.
All the documents that are either letters or minutes, are unsigned, unauthenticated and unverified by a single statement under Section 161 of CrPC.
So, this is what happened, 'A' typed an unsigned letter and sent it to 'B', which was found on C's computer mentioning something about 'D' and they are calling this evidence."
Also, Arun Ferreira's counsel 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 (Indian Association of People's Lawyers) in Kerala on December 9-10, 2017 which was held to commemorate the golden jubilee of the Naxalbari movement in India.
APP Aruna Pai opposed all the three 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.
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.
2. Click Here To Download Sudha Baradwaj's Bail Order
3. Click Here To Download Arun Ferriera's Bail Order