SC to hear Maharashtra's plea on activists' probe on Oct 29

New Delhi


The Supreme Court will on Monday hear a Maharashtra government plea against a High Court order that refused to give more time to the state police to investigate five activists accused of having links with Maoist insurgents.

The Bombay High Court in its October 24 order had set aside the Special Court's order permitting another 90 days to the Maharashtra Police to complete its investigation against Surendra Pundlik Gadling, Sudhir Pralhad Dhawale, Rona Jacob Wilson, Soma Sen, and Mahesh Sitaram Raut.

The Special Court had on September 2 granted additional 90 days to the state police as is permissible under Section 43D(2)(b) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Section 43D (2)(b) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act says, "Provided further that if it is not possible to complete the investigation within the said period of ninety days, the Court may if it is satisfied with the report of the Public Prosecutor indicating the progress of the investigation and the specific reasons for the detention of the accused beyond the said period of ninety days, extend the said period up to one hundred and eighty days."

The apex court's three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, on Thursday directed the listing of the matter on October 29 as Maharashtra government's lawyer Nishant Kanteshwarkar mentioned it for an urgent hearing.

Katneshwarkar told the court that if the Bombay High Court order was not stayed, then the accused "urban naxals" may apply for bail and even secure it.

Seeking "ad-interim ex-parte" stay of the High Court order, the Maharashtra government's petition says, "In case the impugned order is not stayed, probably, the respondents (the five accused) may come out of the custody which may be prejudicial to the investigation. Therefore the impugned order deserves to be stayed."

The Maharashtra petition says that the High Court has "resorted to a pedantic view rather than resorting to a pragmatic view" and the proviso to section 43-D(2)(b) specifically provides that the Court should be satisfied with the report of the public prosecutor indicating the progress of the investigation and the specific reasons for the detention of the accused beyond the period of 90 days.

It has further stated that the investigating officer has filed a report of the application under his signature giving reasons for extension of time on August 30, 2018 and on the very same day, the public prosecutor had submitted her report/application carving out the grounds for extension of time.

The matter relates to alleged singing of "objectionable songs" and instigating comments, speeches, sloganeering at "Elgar Conference' by accused Sudhir Dhawale and others at Bhima Koregaon Shouryadin Prerna Abhiyana, organised by Kabir Kala Manch on December 31, 2017.

Accusing the five activists of having links with Communist Party of India (Maoist), the Maharashtra government has alleged that they misled the people and sowed radical Maoist thoughts in their mind-IANS