SC Adjourns Bail Plea for Bhima Koregaon Case Accused Jyoti Jagtap to July

SC Adjourns Bail Plea for Bhima Koregaon Case Accused Jyoti Jagtap to July

The Supreme Court, in its session today (May 16), has adjourned the bail plea of activist and Bhima Koregaon case accused Jyoti Jagtap to July. Notably, the plea for interim bail had been listed before the three-judge bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna, MM Sundresh, and Bela M Trivedi yesterday.

However, the bench re-listed it for today's proceedings.

Today, the matter was scheduled for a hearing before the Bench of Justices MM Sundresh and SVN Bhatti.

However, upon calling out the case for hearing, the Bench conveyed its inability to conclude the proceedings today. Consequently, the Bench decided to adjourn the matter to July for further deliberation.

At the heart of the issue lies Jagtap's appeal against a Bombay High Court ruling that dismissed her bail application. Since September 2020, she has been incarcerated on charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, following her arrest in relation to the 2018 caste-related unrest in Bhima Koregaon, Pune. Additionally, she is accused of having purported connections with the banned far-left group, the Communist Party of India (Maoists).

It's noteworthy to mention that in a recent development, another accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, activist and journalist Gautam Navlakha, was granted bail by the Supreme Court on May 14. However, his release is contingent upon posting a bond of Rs. 20 lakh for his house arrest. Navlakha had been arrested on April 14, 2020. Initially, the Bombay High Court granted him bail, emphasizing the absence of evidence to suggest his involvement in any terrorist activities. Nevertheless, the High Court temporarily stayed its order for three weeks to allow the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to contest it. This stay was repeatedly extended by the Supreme Court until it was finally lifted yesterday.

The bench, headed by Justice Sundresh and including Justice SVN Bhatti, observed that Gautam Navlakha had been in detention for more than four years, and the trial proceedings were expected to extend over several years before reaching completion.

Before these recent developments, on April 5, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Augustine George Masih granted bail to former Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen. Sen, who had been implicated in the Bhima Koregaon case due to alleged Maoist connections, had been detained since her arrest on June 6, 2018. The bench, in its ruling, considered several factors including Sen's advanced age, her health conditions, the lengthy period of incarceration, the delay in commencing the trial, and the nature of the accusations against her.

Jyoti Jagtap, an activist and a member of the cultural organization 'Kala Kabir Manch', along with 16 others, was accused by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of involvement in the caste-based violence that occurred at Bhima Koregaon in Pune.

The Pune police, later supported by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), argued that inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad event, which was organized to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima, were the catalyst for the violent clashes that erupted between Maratha and Dalit groups near the village of Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra.

As a consequence, 16 activists were arrested on allegations of conspiring and orchestrating the violence. They faced charges under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), primarily supported by evidence extracted from their electronic devices, including letters and emails.

In February 2022, a special NIA court dismissed Jagtap's bail plea, a decision that was subsequently upheld by the Bombay High Court in October. The High Court, in rejecting her application, noted that dialogues in plays performed by Kabir Kala Manch, which mocked terms such as 'Ram Mandir', 'Gomutra', and 'Acche Din', and targeted the democratically elected government, were deemed to incite hatred and suggested involvement in a broader conspiracy.

Case Details: Jyoti Jagtap v. National Investigation Agency & Anr. | Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 5997 of 2023


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