The Bombay High Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing in petition filed by two accused in the Bhima Koregaon case challenging transfer of investigation to the National Investigation Agency, after the Centre sought time to file a reply to the contentions raised.
Division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice Abhay Ahuja heard the petition filed by Advocate Surendra Gadling and Activist Sudhir Dhawale who have been accused of having maoist links and inciting the caste based violence that took place near Koregaon Bhima.
Advocate Madhavi Ayyappan of Talekar Associates appears for the petitioners and Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for NIA.
ASG Singh waived notice and sought time to file an affidavit-in-reply which was granted. Court will now hear the matter on July 14.
The petitioners have been in prison for over two years and have alleged that the then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis led government and police administration at the time the violence took place, conveniently ignored the serious offences committed by Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote.
According to the petitioners, Sambhaji Bhide took out a rally of around 1000 to 1200 people on January 1, 2018 and assaulted dalits who had gathered to give tribute to the martyrs of the Bhima Koregaon battle on the 200th anniversary.
Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote played key roles and acted in tandem with the State government led by Devendra Fadnavis in drawing up the nefarious plan of incarcerating all dalits rights activists in one go falsely implicating them in cases under UAPA painting them as 'urban naxals', the petition states.
In November 2019, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi coalition government led by CM Uddhav Thackeray came into power. A month later in December, the new government decided to form a Special Investigation Team to investigate the caste based violence that took place on January 1, 2018. However, on January 24, 2020, the Central Government issued a notification transferring investigation in the case to the NIA.
Petitioners contend that the said transfer of investigation is not only malafide but a classic example of sheer abuse of the process of law and is nothing less than a fraud on the legislature