Elgar Parishad case: HC asks Maharashtra government to file reply on activist Vernon Gonsalves' plea
Gonsalves, arrested in October last year and currently in judicial custody, in his plea filed this year argued that his custody was illegal since the prosecution had failed to follow due procedure.
MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra government on Friday to file a reply on a plea moved by activist Vernon Gonsalves challenging his arrest in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case.
A bench of justices B P Dharmadhikari and Revati Mohite-Dere directed the state to file its reply by April 9.
Gonsalves, arrested in October last year and currently in judicial custody, in his plea filed this year argued that his custody was illegal since the prosecution had failed to follow due procedure while seeking an extension of time for filing the charge sheet against him and others in the case.
Gonsalves was arrested by the Pune police and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) following raids at the houses and offices of several activists in connection with a December 31, 2017 event to commemorate the battle of Bhima-Koregaon.
The UAPA mandates that the prosecuting agency must file its charge sheet against a person within 90 days of his arrest.
However, if there is a delay on a valid ground, the public prosecutor is permitted to file a report before the trial court, explaining the reasons for the same, and seek more time to submit the charge sheet.
The Act mandates that if the trial court is satisfied with such a report, it can extend the time for filing the charge sheet by up to 180 days.
In the present case, however, a Pune court had granted the police an additional 90 days, following an application from the Investigating Officer (IO) and written submissions by an assistant commissioner of police (ACP) and not the prosecutor.
The state's counsel, Aruna Pai, told the bench that in October last year, activist Surendra Gadling, a co-accused in the case, had filed a similar plea (challenging his arrest).
While Gadling's plea was allowed by the high court, later, the Supreme Court had set aside the high court order and held the arrest to be legal.
Gonsalves and several other activists were booked by the police following an Elgar Parishad event on December 31 2017, which the police had alleged triggered violent clashes at Bhima-Koregaon village, near Pune, the next day.
According to the police, the event was funded and supported by Maoists.
At the event, certain activists had made inflammatory speeches and provocative statements that had contributed to the Bhima-Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018, the police had said.