The Bombay High Court has pulled up Maharashtra Police for holding a press conference, elaborating on the evidence it claims to have, against activists arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. While hearing a petition, the court said how can the police hold a press conference when the case is subjudice.
The court further adjourned a petition demanding a National Investigation Agency (NIA) inquiry in the Elgar Parishad matter for the hearing on September 7, since copies of the petition were not served to all concerned persons, reported ANI.
"How can the police do this? The matter is subjudice. The Supreme Court is seized of the matter. In such cases, revealing information pertaining to the case is wrong," said Justice Bhatkar.
The high court was hearing a petition filed by one Satish Gaikwad, who claims to be a victim of the Bhima Koregaon violence. Mr Gaikwad told the court that the police on one hand wants an in camera hearing while on the other are reading out evidence in the form of the activists' letters in public.The petitioner wants the case to be handed over to the NIA or the National Investigative Agency.
Facing criticism on the raids and arrests targeting rights activists, the Maharashtra police had claimed it had solid evidence including "thousands of documents and letters" that established the activists' links to Maoists and their role in facilitating weapons and funding.
In a press conference on Friday, August 31, Maharashtra police ADG PB Singh said that the evidence collected establishes the link between arrested activists with Maoist organisations and Communist Party of India (Maoist).
The activists were planning “another Rajiv Gandhi-like incident”, he added.
There is nothing new in the allegations made by the police, said Mr Rao's nephew. Calling the Maharashtra Police's "conclusive proof", "cooked up", Mr Rao's nephew told news agency PTI that "it is illegal to hold a press conference when the Supreme Court asked the evidence to be submitted on September 6."
Lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj, who is also under house arrest, said that one of the letters mentioned by the police is fabricated. "It is a totally concocted letter fabricated to criminalize me and other human rights lawyers, activists and organisations," she said in hand-written statement shared through her lawyer Vrinda Grover.
Last week, the Pune Police arrested Left-wing activists Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, and raided the homes of several others as part of their probe into the 'Elgar Parishad' conclave in Koregaon-Bhima village near Pune on December 31 last year.
The Supreme Court later ordered that the five activists be kept under house arrest till September 6.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, the Pune court granted an extension of the 90-day period for filing charge sheet against five persons arrested in June for alleged Maoist links. Police had arrested Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut in June while probing the alleged Maoist connection to the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31 last year.