Bhima Koregaon: Bombay High Court allows NIA’s request to adjourn Mahesh Raut’s bail plea

The National Investigation Agency has sought the adjournment of Mahesh Raut’s bail plea on the ground that the newly appointed Additional Solicitor General of India is yet to assume office. The matter is posted for further hearing on August 7.

ON Thursday, the division Bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justices A.S. Gadkari and Shivkumar Dige allowed adjournment of hearing in the bail plea of forest rights activist Mahesh Raut.

Mahesh Raut is an accused in the Bhima Koregaon–Elgar Parishad Maoist links and criminal conspiracy case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

He is currently lodged in Taloja central jail, awaiting trial.

The bail application, filed in 2022, challenges the rejection of bail pleas by a sessions court in Pune in 2019 and the NIA court in Mumbai in 2021.

The adjournment was sought by the respondent, National Investigation Agency (NIA), on the ground that the Additional Solicitor General of India (ASGI), Devang Girish Vyas, who has recently been given the charge of the Bombay High Court, is yet to assume office.

In a reply on June 27, the NIA had opposed the bail plea on the ground that the evidence indicates that Raut and other co-accused persons had received ₹5 lakh from the proscribed Communist Party of India (CPI) (Maoist). 

The reply further pointed to an incriminating letter recovered from co-accused Rona Wilson’s computer.

In the reply, it is alleged that Raut’s actions directly impact the unity, integrity, sovereignty and security of the country.

Raut’s bail application is posted for further hearing on August 7.


Mahesh Raut, a land and forest rights activist, worked with gram sabhas in the mining areas of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra.

He is also a former fellow of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Programme of the Union Ministry of Rural Development.

On June 6, 2018, Raut, along with five other accused persons, was arrested for allegedly spreading Maoist ideology, providing funds to banned organisations and conducting recruitments for the Maoists.

In November 2019, a sessions court in Pune rejected bail applications filed by the six accused persons. The court noted that prima facie evidence suggested that the acts of the applicants were aimed at undermining democracy in India.

In November 2021, an NIA court, while taking note of the submission made by NIA that Raut’s name was found in a letter retrieved from co-accused Wilson’s computer, rejected his bail application.

The submission was opposed by Raut stating that the existence of the letter is disputed on account of forensic reports finding malware infiltration of Wilson’s electronic mail devices.

In April 2022, Raut approached an NIA court to seek discharge from the charges levied against him in the 2018 case related to allegedly spreading Maoists ideology.

He claimed that the allegations of handling money for the CPI (Maoist) and for assisting students to go to Gadchiroli are based on the two letters obtained from co-accused Wilson’s device, which according to him have been compromised and the evidence tampered with.

Earlier, on May 4, 2022, the Bombay High Court dismissed a petition that sought review of its earlier December 1, 2021 Order under which an appeal for default bail presented by eight accused, including Raut, was dismissed. 

Trial is yet to begin in the Bhima Koregaon case. The prosecution has filed a chargesheet exceeding 5,000 pages and intends to cross-examine at least 200 witnesses. 

Several of the accused persons have now spent almost five years in judicial custody without trial.

Three of the accused persons, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao and Anand Teltumbde have managed to secure bail so far. 

Another co-accused, Father Stan Swamy, passed away due to COVID in custody in June 2021 after incarceration of over seven months. The others remain behind bars. 

An investigation by Arsenal Consulting, a leading, independent expert firm on digital forensics, has revealed that sophisticated malware was used to plant the digital evidence that forms the basis for the prosecution’s case on the devices of two of the accused persons in the case, Surendra Gadling and Wilson. 

Arsenal’s findings were published in four reports in 2021.

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