Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Wednesday quashed a special court’s order granting the police an extension of 90 days to file a chargesheet against five activists — Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale — who were arrested on June 6 in connection with the violence in Bhima-Koregaon. The high court also stayed its order till November 1 in case the Maharashtra government wants to move Supreme Court. The five activists can apply for bail after that.
The single-judge bench of Justice Mridula Bhatkar struck down the special court’s order, saying the public prosecutor had not filed a report regarding the progress in the investigation. The session judge’s order had violated Section 43D of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, that has a provision which allows a court to extend custody of the accused beyond 90 days if the investigation is not completed in that period.
“The facts of the case shows that the investigating officer has navigated (extended) the application for extension of period by further 90 days, which is not contemplated under the law,” the court said. “It is to be remembered that the investigating officer is always interested in the success or the conviction in the case. However, it is the duty of the public prosecutor to assist the court in the process of administration of justice by upholding the law,” she said.
Earlier this month, Gadling had approached the HC with a plea that keeping him under extended custody and refusing to release him on bail was illegal. The UAPA Act mandates that the prosecuting agency in a case must file its chargesheet within 90 days from the arrest of a person. But, if there is a delay on a valid ground, the public prosecutor in the case is permitted to file a report before the trial court explaining the reasons for the delay, and seek more time. The Act mandates that if the trial court is satisfied with the report, it can extend the time for filing the charge sheet up to 180 days.
In the present case, it was alleged that the reports that were considered by the lower court in Pune for grant of extension included an application and a written submission made by the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), and the investigating officer in the case.The arguments seeking the extension were also made by the investigating officer and the ACP before the lower court.