Bhima Koregaon case, to be heard on a Non-Miscellaneous day

Bhima Koregaon case, to be heard on a Non-Miscellaneous day

The Supreme Court ordered that the hearing on the bail applications of Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, two of the defendants in the Bhima Koregaon case, be postponed to a non-miscellaneous day on February 6 at the National Investigation Agency's (NIA) request. 

The bail requests of Gonsalves and a co-accused, Ferreira, who were detained for alleged connections to far-left militants and the 2018 caste-based violence that erupted at Bhima Koregaon in Pune, were being heard by a bench made up of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia. On the last occasion, the Bench had ordered the matter to be listed on a Non-Miscellaneous day after hearing the Counsel for both sides for a brief period of time.

We have seen your reply affidavit, Justice Dhulia said on Monday as Attorney Mr. Kanu Agarwal informed the Bench that the NIA has submitted separate counter affidavits in both cases. What does the counter affidavit contain? 

Justice Bose voiced worry over the five years that the accused had been detained. He said that even though the NIA would be able to suggest terms for bail in such a situation, it could be challenging to keep them behind bars.

“…if somebody is in custody for 5 years…You may suggest conditions for bail, but…”

The hearing was postponed till Wednesday at Mr. Agarwal's request because he felt that the ASG (SV Raju), who was hunched over before another Bench, would be best qualified to address the Bench in this case. 

Justice Dhulia made a comment about one of the two accused people having 30 to 40 complaints against him during the hearing. Vernon Gonsalves' senior attorney Rebecca John said that all but one of the cases in which her client was prosecuted resulted in an acquittal. She explained to the Bench that Vernon had completed his term and was currently arguing his case before the Bombay High Court in Nagpur.

The petitioners were detained on August 28, 2018, following their arrest for allegedly having Maoist ties in relation to the Bhima Koregaon violence in January 2018. 

They have appealed the Bombay High Court's decision, which denied them default bail while granting Sudha Bharadwaj, a co-accused, the same benefit, to the Supreme Court. The High Court rejected their appeal for a review of the decision to deny them default bail in May 2022. 

Even though he was not on the bench that considered their bail pleas, Justice Datta served as Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court at the relevant time. Justice Dipankar Datta had therefore declined to hear the case when it came before the Supreme Court.

Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, and Anand Teltumbde are the three defendants who have received bail so far in the case (bail on medical grounds)

Case Title: Vernon v. State of Maharashtra
Citation: Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 5423 of 2022

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