Sachin Mali, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Ghaichor of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) have been granted bail by the apex court. KKM is a culture troupe that was labelled as a Maoist group by Maharashtra police.
These three were booked under Sections 387, 465, 467, 468, 471 read with Section 120 B of the Indian Penal code also punishable under Sections 18, 18(a), 18(b), 20, 38 and 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967. The three accused were picked up from Thane in 2012 for their allegedly involvement in Naxalite activities.
A total of 15 members of the KKM had been charged, however 4 are absconding and out of the remaining eleven who were arrested, eight have already been released on bail earlier leaving the three. One of eight accused was released on bail by the Supreme Court in May 2016.
The bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice L Nageshwar Rao passed the order granting bail to the three accused. The bench observed that “although the charges were serious, they have to be balanced with certain other facts like the period of custody suffered and likely period within which trial can be expected to be completed.”
It has also been stated in the order that although the state had assured the court in July 2016 that the trial would be completed within six months, till now out of the 147 proposed witnesses to be examined, only one has been examined.
Senior Advocate Rebecca John appeared for the three accused.
After the order, documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan gave a statement in a press release. He called the Pune based group “a cultural troupe made up of Dalit and working class musicians and poets” who came together after the Gujarat riots of 2002. KKM was known for it’s street plays. Some of these songs and performances feature in Patwardhan’s National Award winning documentary “Jai Bhim Comrade”.
In November 2015, the Bombay High Court had rejected the bail of these three persons. This was not the first time their bail applications were rejected by the HC. Earlier their application was rejected in April 2014.
While Sachin in lodged in Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, Sagar and Ramesh are in Taloja Jail.
Read the order here.
This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.