Koregaon-Bhima case: SC stays Bombay HC order denying more time to file charge sheet

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Bombay High Court order denying extension of time to the Maharashtra Police for filing charge sheet in the Koregaon-Bhima violence case.

Recently, the Bombay High Court had set aside the lower court’s order allowing extension of time to the state police to file its probe report against the rights activists in connection with the violence case.

Taking note of the appeal of the Maharashtra government, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi stayed the high court order and issued notice to rights activists on the plea.

Earlier, the apex court had refused to interfere with the arrest of five rights activists by the Maharashtra Police in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence case and declined to appoint a SIT for probe into their arrest.

The Pune Police had arrested lawyer Surendra Gadling, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen, Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale, activist Mahesh Raut and Kerala native Rona Wilson in June for their alleged links with Maoists under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The arrests had followed raids at their residences and offices in connection with the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31 last year, which, the police had claimed, had led to violence at Koregaon and Bhima the next day.

The Maharashtra government had on October 25 moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court order by which the extension of time granted to state police to conclude probe in the Koregaon Bhima violence case was set aside.

In the previous hearing, the bench had considered the submissions of lawyer Nishant Katneshwar, appearing for the Maharashtra government, that the appeal needed to be heard on an urgent basis.

The lawyer had said that if the high court order is not stayed then accused in the violence case would become entitled for grant of statutory bail for want of non-filing of charge sheet within the stipulated period.

Under the UAPA, a charge sheet must be filed within 90 days of arrest. However, the prosecutor can file a report before the trial court, explaining the reasons for the delay, and seek more time. If satisfied, the court can extend the time by 90 days.

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