Supreme Court to pronounce verdict on Bhima Koregaon activists’ statutory bail tomorrow

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE JUDGEMENT that will revisit what is popularly known as default bail or statutory bail law, is to be pronounced tomorrow, February 13, 2019, by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the Supreme Court. The apex court will deliver its verdict on the appeal file by Maharashtra government against the Bombay High Court decision refusing the cops a 90-day extension to file a chargesheet against the Bhima Koregaon arrestees, including Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Professor Shoma Sen and Sudhir Dhawale.

The case arises out of the Bombay High Court’s judgment which held that the report as envisaged by the Section 43D of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) did not comply with the law and therefore the extension granted for filing of chargesheet was held to be patently illegal. Resultantly, it paved way for the bail of the first set of five arrestee the renowned activist lawyer Advocate Surendra P Gadling, activist and journalist Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, JNU scholar Rona Wilson and former PMRDF fellow Mahesh Raut.

Forthwith, the judgment of Bombay High Court was challenged before the Supreme Court by State of Maharashtra, and bench headed by CJI granted stay to the judgment.

The activists were representedpro bono by battery of senior counsels, including Indira Jaising, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Kapil Sibal, Anand Grover, Raju Ramchandran, as well as advocates Aakarsh Kamra, Sunil Fernandes, S Gowthaman, K V Muthukumar, Tripti Tandon, Nehmat Kaur, Parasnath Singh, Arushi Mahajan, Barun Kumar, Jagdish Meshram, Anil Adelkar, Nihalsing Rathod, among many others.

During the hearing, the court had expressed its anguish over the trial court for hearing the matter on a Sunday, though it could have been adjourned for a day as per the request of the activists. It had asked the Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi as to “which heaven was going to fall, if the matter had been heard on Monday and not on a Sunday”.

The matter assumes significance since the court had also taken cognisance of the attempt at “evergreening”, on submission of Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, wherein she had pointed out to the court, that with agenda to scuttle the apex courts order if passed in favour of the activists, Maharashtra Police has named Advocate Surendra Gadling in another old case, which did not have any connection with the activist lawyer. She had brought it to notice of the court, that the moment he would be released from this case, he would be arrested in another case, and such ever-greening would go on and on.

After getting an earful from the court in the Romila Thapar case, and historic dissent by Justice D Y Chandrachud in the Supreme Court judgment, added with the dismissal of Anand Teltumbde’s quashing petition, this could be the first relief from the apex court to the activists, if it rules in favour of the first set of arrestees, or the #BhimaKoregaon5.

The Leaflet