New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said heavens would not have fallen if the Pune court judge had granted a day’s adjournment sought by the accused in Bhima-Koregaon violence case to contest Maharashtra Police application for extension of time beyond statutory 90 days to complete the investigation and file charge-sheet.
“Heavens would not have fallen if he (Pune court judge) had adjourned the hearing. If 90 days expire and if he decides on 91th day, what would have happened? They would not have walked out (of jail) without court’s order,” said Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who along with Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul is hearing Maharashtra government’s plea challenging the Bombay High Court order.
The Bombay High Court has set-aside the Pune court order giving the state police another 90 days time to complete investigation and file charge-sheet in the Bhima-Koregaon case.
“Why did the judge hear the matter on Sunday (September 2) and did not grant a day’s adjournment (sought by the accused)? He had a whole day on September 3, why did he hear it on Sunday (September 2). Why should a judge take up a matter on Sunday?” CJI Gogoi asked as senior counsel Indira Jaising appearing for one of the accused told the bench that even the application for remand by the state police was heard by the Pune court on Sunday.
While questioning Pune court holding hearing on Sunday, the court on Thursday reserved order on Maharashtra government’s appeal against the Bombay High Court order setting aside the Pune court’s September 2, 2018 granting another 90 days time to the state police to complete investigation and file charge-sheet.
As court expressed its misgivings on the lower court decision to hear the matter on Sunday, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi sought to explain what would have happened if the hearing on the application for extension of time had commenced on September 3 and spilled over to September 4.
Emphasising that it was not a “simple” case, Rohatgi said that the five accused would have become entitled to statutory bail on the default of state police to file charge-sheet before the expiry of 90 days from the date of arrest of the accused.
The dates assume significance as five accused — Surendra Pundlik Gadling, Sudhir Pralhad Dhawale, Rona Jacob Wilson, Dr Soma Sen and Mahesh Sitaram Raut — were arrested on June 6, 2018, and the last day (90th) for filing the charge-sheet was September 3, 2018.
Senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Anand Grover and Indira Jaising also questioned investigating officer moving application for the extension of time and not the public prosecutor.
Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, it is public prosecutor, who on an independent application of mind and his satisfaction, would move the trial court for the extension of time beyond 90 days to complete investigation and file charge-sheet, the counsel told the court.
Accused Surendra Gadling is a lawyer, Dr Shoma Sen is a Nagpur University professor, Sudhir Dhawale is a Dalit activist, Mahesh Raut and Kerala native Rona Wilson are activists. They were arrested on June 6 for their alleged links with outlawed Maoists outfit under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).