Bhima Koregaon: NIA is allowed yet more time to file reply to plea for furnishing copies of evidence to accused

A few accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon–Elgar Parishad Maoist links and criminal conspiracy case have previously argued that their applications for cloned copies under Section 207 of the Code of Criminal Procedure have been pending for more than five years.

ON Friday, a National Investigation (NIA) special court of judge Rajesh Kataria allowed the NIA time till August 17 to file a reply to the applications filed by the accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon–Elgar Parishad Maoist links and criminal conspiracy case.

The plea is for the NIA to comply with Section 207 (supply to the accused of a copy of the police report and other documents) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

During the previous hearings, the accused persons had raised the grievance that despite filing several applications with the investigating authorities under Section 207 of the CrPC, they had not been allowed access to the compact disks, which are an important piece of evidence furnished by the NIA in the case.

Activist and lawyer Arun Ferreira had argued that the accused persons in the Elgar Parishad–Bhima Koregaon case have filed applications under Section 207 of the CrPC, to be provided with the material that the prosecution has relied upon since the case was filed five years ago.

On July 18, the court had allowed the agency time to file an additional reply to the applications.

Today, the NIA court also directed that the discharge applications filed by some accused persons will be heard after the hearing of pending applications for compliance under Section 207 of the CrPC.

The matter is posted for further hearing on August 17. 


In connection with the Elgar Parishad–Bhima Koregaon case, on June 6, 2018, Pune police arrested human rights lawyer and Dalit rights activist, Surendra Gadling; Dalit rights activist and editor of the Marathi magazine Vidrohi, Sudhir Dhawale; activist and researcher, and member of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, Rona Wilson; former head of the English department at Nagpur University, and Dalit and women’s rights activist, Shoma Sen; and forest rights activist and former fellow of Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Programme of the Union Ministry of Rural Development, Mahesh Raut.

On August 28, 2018, activist, poet, writer and teacher Dr P. Varavara Rao; trade unionist, activist and lawyer, Sudha Bharadwaj; Arun Ferreira; activist and academic Vernon Gonsalves; and human rights activist and journalist, Gautam Navlakha were arrested and lodged in Mumbai’s Taloja jail.

In the subsequent months, scholar, writer and civil rights activist, Dr Anand Teltumbde; tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest, Father Stan Swamy; an anti-caste activist, Hany Babu; and musical performers, anti-caste activists and members of the cultural troupe Kabir Kala Manch, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap, were also arrested.

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

Ten of the 16 accused persons are presently incarcerated, having now spent between two to almost five years in judicial custody without trial.

In addition to Gonsalves and Ferreira, who were granted bail today, three of the other accused persons, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao and Anand Teltumbde have also managed to secure bail so far.

Another accused, tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy, passed away in judicial custody in July 2021 after contracting Covid in prison while awaiting bail on medical grounds.

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 Rona Wilson.

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

The Leaflet