6 Feb 2023 11:54 AM GMT
The Supreme Court, on Monday, at the request of National Investigation Agency (NIA), directed the hearing of the bail applications of Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, two of the accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon case, to be deferred to a Non-Miscellaneous day (Wednesday).A Bench comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing the bail applications of...
The Supreme Court, on Monday, at the request of National Investigation Agency (NIA), directed the hearing of the bail applications of Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, two of the accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon case, to be deferred to a Non-Miscellaneous day (Wednesday).
A Bench comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing the bail applications of Gonsalves and a co-accused, Ferreira, who were arrested for alleged links with the 2018 caste-based violence that broke out at Bhima Koregaon in Pune, as well as with far-left militants. On the last occasion, after briefly hearing the Counsel for both sides, the Bench had directed the matter to be listed on a Non-Miscellaneous day.
On Monday, as Advocate, Mr. Kanu Agarwal apprised the Bench that NIA has filed separate counter affidavits in both the cases, Justice Dhulia enquired, “We have seen your counter affidavit. What is there in the counter affidavit?”
Mr. Agarwal responded that the accused have committed serious offences, by way of their membership and participation in activities of a banned organisation.
Justice Bose asked Mr. Agarwal, “Why do you need him?”
Justice Dhulia added, “He has been in jail for 5 years.”
Justice Bose expressed concern that the accused have been kept in custody for the last 5 years. He indicated that under such circumstances, though the NIA would be in a position to suggest conditions for bail, it might be difficult to keep them behind bars.
“…if somebody is in custody for 5 years…You may suggest conditions for bail, but…”
At the request of Mr. Agarwal that the ASG (SV Raju), who was on his legs before another Bench, would be suited to address the Bench in the matter, the hearing was deferred till Wednesday.
During the course of the hearing, Justice Dhulia pointed out that one of the two accused persons have 30-40 cases against him. Senior Advocate Rebecca John, appearing on behalf of Vernon Gonsalves, submitted that her client has been acquitted in all, except one case. In that case, she informed the Bench, Vernon had served the sentence and his appeal is pending before the Bombay High Court, at Nagpur.
Justice Dhulia noted, “Your case is slightly different from others.”
The petitioners have been under custody since August 28, 2018 after they were arrested over alleged Maoist links in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence of January 2018.
They have approached the Supreme Court against the order passed by the Bombay High Court in December 2021 which denied them default bail while the same benefit was granted to co-accused Sudha Bharadwaj. In May 2022, the High Court dismissed their petition seeking review of the order denying them default bail.
Justice Datta was the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court during the said period, although he was not part of the bench which heard their bail applications. Therefore, when the matter came up before the Supreme Court, Justice Dipankar Datta had recused from hearing it.
Three accused person have got bail in the case so far- Sudha Bharadwaj (default bail), Anand Teltumbde (bail on merits) and Varavara Rao (bail on medical grounds)
[Case Title: Vernon v. State of Maharashtra Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 5423 of 2022]
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