Bhima Koregaon Violence: Bombay HC seeks NIA Stance On Plea For Default Bail

Bhima Koregaon Violence

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on a petition for default bail filed by four accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence.  

A division bench comprising of Justice AS Gadkari and Justice PD Naik was considering a petition filed by the four accused namely Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson, challenging an order of the special court rejecting their 2018 default bail applications.

The bench directed the investigating agency to submit its response in three weeks.

In June 2018, the four accused were all detained by the NIA for alleged links in the caste-based violence that broke out at Bhima Koregaon in Pune, as well as with far-left militants.

The investigating officer submitted a request to extend the deadline for submitting a chargesheet against the four suspects in August 2018.

A Pune sessions judge extended the deadline for filing the chargesheet on September 2, 2018.

On September 27, 2018, the four defendants filed a default bail application. The special NIA judge rejected this application on June 26, 2022, which prompted the accused to seek relief from the High Court.

The accused claimed that despite lacking the authority to do so, the special court in Pune had extended the period of time given to the NIA to finish its probe. They claimed that the special NIA judge disregarded this factor when denying their bail request.

The appeal further stated that the accused had questioned if the Pune sessions judge had the authority to handle the situation at the time of their detention.

The co-accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, Sudha Bharadwaj, was granted default bail by the High Court on December 1, 2021. The accused further claimed that their situation was comparable to Sudha Bharadwaj’s.

In this reference, the petition filed through advocate Nihalsingh Rathod recounted the parameters set by the High Court while granting bail to Bharadwaj, namely,

• a period of 90 days under detention had expired by September 5, 2018

• the application seeking bail under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which deals with default bail, came to be filed on September 27, 2018 and

 • no chargesheet had been filed until November 15, 2018.

The accused claimed that the special court had failed to recognise that the right to default bail becomes accessible to an accused once these prerequisites under Section 167(2) of the CrPC are achieved.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte