Supreme Court extends stay on bail granted to Mahesh Raut again

A division Bench of the Supreme Court allowed adjournment sought by additional solicitor general S.V. Raju, appearing for the National Investigation Agency, and allowed the interim Order of stay to continue till the next date of hearing.

ON Wednesday, the Supreme Court allowed a further extension on stay on the Order of the Bombay High Court that granted regular bail to forest rights activist Mahesh Raut by another week.

A division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Bela M. Trivedi and Dipankar Datta was hearing a special leave petition filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) challenging the Order of the high court.

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

He is currently lodged in the Taloja Central Jail, awaiting trial.

On September 21, a division Bench of the high court comprising Justices A.S. Gadkari and Sharmila U. Deshmukh had granted bail to Raut and allowed a stay on the Order for one week to enable the NIA to appeal in the Supreme Court.

On September 27, a division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Trivedi decided to hear the matter on the next date and extended the stay on the high court’s Order that granted regular bail to Raut.

Today, additional solicitor general S.V. Raju, appearing on behalf of the NIA, sought an adjournment for a week on the grounds of  “personal difficulty”.

Allowing the adjournment, the Bench decided to hear the matter next on November 1, following the court’s vacation.

The Bench directed the interim Order of the extension of stay on bail to continue till the next date of hearing.


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

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 Maoist 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.

Besides Raut, five of the accused persons, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Dr Anand Teltumbde, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira 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.

The Leaflet