Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Freedom Rule of Law

Bhima Koregaon case: 5 years on, charges not framed despite repeat extensions

The Special NIA Court has said that it will first need to dispose the discharge applications filed by the accused, before deciding on framing of charges

Sanchita Kadam 19 Jan 2023

Bhima Koregaon

The Special NIA court, Mumbai has sought a time extension of one more year from the Supreme Court to frame charges in the case. This request was sent in November last year. On January 16, the Supreme Court said that it will proceed with hearing bail applications of activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira from January 30.

Last year in August while hearing Gonsalves’ plea, the apex court had given the Special Court three months’ time to decide whether charges are required to be framed against the accused or not. This three month period ended in November 2022, just when the Special Court sought an extension for another year!

The NIA has said that since the accused kept on filing applications, the court needed time to frame charges. The special court is hearing discharge pleas and informed the court that some accused are in the process of filing discharge pleas. The Special Court will first pass orders on their applications, then proceed with framing of charges, which will be the first step towards commencing the trial, reported Indian Express

Given these developments it is pertinent to look at the timeline of the sequence of incidents through the case, right from the registration of FIRs, arrest of the accused and the duration of their incarceration. Criminal trials in India are notorious for their delays. Trials under the most stringent laws like the NIA Act fare even worse.

Bhima Koregaon Case – a Timeline

December 31, 2017:  Elgar Praishad organised by former Supreme Court judge Justice PB Sawant and former high court judge Justice BG Kolse Patil regarding the historical significance of the battle fought between Peshwa Bajirao II and the British East Indian Company. In this battle, the British won and their army included members of Mahar Dalit community whose services were rejected by the Peshwas.

January 1, 2018: Violence broke out as Hindu right wing and Maratha groups had objected to the commemoration of the event which led to the death of 2 Dalits and several others were injured.

January 2, 2018: FIR registered by Anita Ravindra Salve, a member of the Bahujan Republican Socialist Party against Sambhaji Bhide (former RSS worker) and Milind Ekbote (former BJP and Shiv Sena corporator)

January 8, 2018: Complaint is filed by Pune businessman Tushar Damgude claiming that the violence at Bhima Koregaon was instigated by leftist activists. Members of the Kabir Kala Manch, including Sagar Gorkhe and Jyoti Jagtap were named in the FIR. FIR filed by Vishrambaug Police Station in Pune

May 17, 2018: Sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act are added to the case as the police allegedly found incriminating documents from the residence of the accused.

March 14, 2018: Milind Ekbote arrested and later granted bail on April 19, 2018

April 17, 2018: Raids conducted at homes of Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawale, as well as Kabir Kala Manch members Harshali Potdar, Jyoti Jagtap, Ramesh Ghaichor and Deepak Dhengle

June 6, 2018: Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson arrested

August 28, 2018: Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha arrested. They were granted their request for house arrest by Supreme Court as the court was unsatisfied with the merits of the case

September 28, 2018: Apex court, in a 2:1 majority rejects request to set up Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the case comprising of Romila Thapar and few other eminent persons. The dissenting judge was current CJI, DY Chandrachud who supported the plea for SIT since there was a “cloud on the impartiality of the investigative process.”

During arguments, advocates for the eminent citizens including historian Romila Thapar Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the case against five activists arrested in Koregaon-Bhima case was constructed in the name of former Delhi University Professor G N Saibaba who is serving life sentence for Maoist links. Thapar and other noted personalities, who had filed plea against the arrest of the five activists, said the case was based on 13 letters, which are in the public domain, either written or received by one Comrade Prakash, whom a lower court has said is actually Saibaba and now serving life sentence after his conviction to life imprisonment in 2017. The question was raised how a person in prison could be writing letters that then form the basis of such a serious case.

October and November2018: Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, taken into police custody, while Gautam Navlakha gets house arrest basis a high Court order

November 15, 2018: A charge sheet of more than 5,000 pages in filed alleging a larger conspiracy and Maoist links.

November 17, 2018: Poet activist, Varavara Rao taken into judicial custody

February 21, 2019: Supplementary charge sheet filed claiming that the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers, with which some of the accused were associated, is a front organisation for Maoists.

December 2019 – January 2020: Sharad Pawar, calls for the case to be handed over to a Special Investigation Team and the then Home Minister Anil Deshmukh explored in a meeting the reinvestigation of the case

January 24, 2020: Cases handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) by the Union Government

April 14, 2020: Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha surrender to NIA as their prayer for interim relief, even when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak, was denied

July 25, 2020: NIA interrogates Fr Stan Swamy for nearly 15 hours at his residence in Ranchi.

July 28, 2020: Prof. Hany Babu arrested.

September 8, 2020: Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, and Jyoti Jagtap arrested. They released a video alleging that the NIA tried to get Gorkhe and Gaichor to be witnesses in the Bhima-Koregaon case, and pressured them to falsely admit to visiting Maoist leaders in a jungle in Gadchiroli

October 8, 2020: 83-year-old Father Stan Swamy (now deceased) was arrested

October 10, 2020: Another supplementary charge sheet filed against Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Hany Babu, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Ghaichor, Jyoti Jagtap and Milind Teltumbde (now deceased) claiming that they conspired with the other accused to further the ideology of the banned CPI (Maoist) organisation

October 18 and 22, 2020: Stan Swamy filed for interim bail on medical ground which then denied on October 22, 2020

November 6, 2020: Father Stan Swamy’s request for a straw and sipper owing to his Parkinson’s disease refused; NIA said it does not have the same

December 4, 2020: Father Stan Swamy receives the straw and sipper

November 2020 to January 2021: Several bail pleas of the accused rejected

February 8, 2021: Boston based Arsenal Consulting released a forensic report stating that documents were wrongfully inserted into the hard drive of Rona Wilson using malware

February 22, 2021: Varavara Rao granted bail for six months on medical grounds

March 2021: Fr Stan Swamy’s bail plea denied by special NIA Court

May 19, 2021: While hearing Fr Swamy’s bail appeal, Bombay High Court directs JJ Hospital to form an expert panel to examine Swamy’s health

July 5, 2021: Father Stan Swamy passes away due to cardiac arrest

August 25, 2021: Special NIA court denies bail to Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha

September 22, 2021: Shoma Sen’s plea for bail on medical grounds rejected by special NIA court

December 1, 2021: Bombay high Court grants bail to Sudha Bharadwaj, while bail of Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling and Varavara Rao rejected

December 7, 2021: Supreme Court dismissed NIA’s appeal against Sudha Bharadwaj’s bail

December 9, 2021: Sudha Bharadwaj released from prison

February 14, 2022: Special Court denies bail to Hany Babu and Kabir Kala Manch members Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap

August 10, 2022: Supreme Court grants Varavara Rao bail, removes High Court’s condition to surrender after three months

August 19, 2022: Supreme Court asked NIA Court to decide on framing of charges within 3 months

September 19, 2022: Bombay High Court rejects Hany Babu’s bail plea

May 4, 2022: Bombay High Court rejects review petition filed by Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira seeking default bail

May 5, 2022: Sambhaji Ekbote’s name dropped from the case

October 17, 2022: Bombay high Court denies bail to Jyoti Jagtap

November 10, 2022: Supreme Court granted Gautam Navlakha’s request for house arrest

November 18, 2022: Bombay High Court grants bail to Anand Teltumbde on merits

November 18, 2022: Supreme Court refuses to vacate order directing Gautam Navlakha’s house arrest and directs NIA’ to place him under house arrest within 24 hours          

November 25, 2022: Supreme Court rejects NIA’s appeal against bail of Anand Teltumbde

November 2022: Special NIA court seeks another year of extension for framing charges

December 2022: Another report of Arsenal Consulting shows that multiple incriminating documents were planted in the computer of Father Stan Swamy

January 2022: SC has stated, on January 16 that it will hear the bail pleas of activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira from January 30.

 

Related:

2022: Looking back at the best judgments from Indian courts

On the firing line:  Human rights warriors of 2022

Evidence planted on Jesuit-activist Stan Swamy's laptop: Arsenal US Report

Bhima Koregaon case: 5 years on, charges not framed despite repeat extensions

The Special NIA Court has said that it will first need to dispose the discharge applications filed by the accused, before deciding on framing of charges

Bhima Koregaon

The Special NIA court, Mumbai has sought a time extension of one more year from the Supreme Court to frame charges in the case. This request was sent in November last year. On January 16, the Supreme Court said that it will proceed with hearing bail applications of activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira from January 30.

Last year in August while hearing Gonsalves’ plea, the apex court had given the Special Court three months’ time to decide whether charges are required to be framed against the accused or not. This three month period ended in November 2022, just when the Special Court sought an extension for another year!

The NIA has said that since the accused kept on filing applications, the court needed time to frame charges. The special court is hearing discharge pleas and informed the court that some accused are in the process of filing discharge pleas. The Special Court will first pass orders on their applications, then proceed with framing of charges, which will be the first step towards commencing the trial, reported Indian Express

Given these developments it is pertinent to look at the timeline of the sequence of incidents through the case, right from the registration of FIRs, arrest of the accused and the duration of their incarceration. Criminal trials in India are notorious for their delays. Trials under the most stringent laws like the NIA Act fare even worse.

Bhima Koregaon Case – a Timeline

December 31, 2017:  Elgar Praishad organised by former Supreme Court judge Justice PB Sawant and former high court judge Justice BG Kolse Patil regarding the historical significance of the battle fought between Peshwa Bajirao II and the British East Indian Company. In this battle, the British won and their army included members of Mahar Dalit community whose services were rejected by the Peshwas.

January 1, 2018: Violence broke out as Hindu right wing and Maratha groups had objected to the commemoration of the event which led to the death of 2 Dalits and several others were injured.

January 2, 2018: FIR registered by Anita Ravindra Salve, a member of the Bahujan Republican Socialist Party against Sambhaji Bhide (former RSS worker) and Milind Ekbote (former BJP and Shiv Sena corporator)

January 8, 2018: Complaint is filed by Pune businessman Tushar Damgude claiming that the violence at Bhima Koregaon was instigated by leftist activists. Members of the Kabir Kala Manch, including Sagar Gorkhe and Jyoti Jagtap were named in the FIR. FIR filed by Vishrambaug Police Station in Pune

May 17, 2018: Sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act are added to the case as the police allegedly found incriminating documents from the residence of the accused.

March 14, 2018: Milind Ekbote arrested and later granted bail on April 19, 2018

April 17, 2018: Raids conducted at homes of Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawale, as well as Kabir Kala Manch members Harshali Potdar, Jyoti Jagtap, Ramesh Ghaichor and Deepak Dhengle

June 6, 2018: Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson arrested

August 28, 2018: Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha arrested. They were granted their request for house arrest by Supreme Court as the court was unsatisfied with the merits of the case

September 28, 2018: Apex court, in a 2:1 majority rejects request to set up Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the case comprising of Romila Thapar and few other eminent persons. The dissenting judge was current CJI, DY Chandrachud who supported the plea for SIT since there was a “cloud on the impartiality of the investigative process.”

During arguments, advocates for the eminent citizens including historian Romila Thapar Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the case against five activists arrested in Koregaon-Bhima case was constructed in the name of former Delhi University Professor G N Saibaba who is serving life sentence for Maoist links. Thapar and other noted personalities, who had filed plea against the arrest of the five activists, said the case was based on 13 letters, which are in the public domain, either written or received by one Comrade Prakash, whom a lower court has said is actually Saibaba and now serving life sentence after his conviction to life imprisonment in 2017. The question was raised how a person in prison could be writing letters that then form the basis of such a serious case.

October and November2018: Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, taken into police custody, while Gautam Navlakha gets house arrest basis a high Court order

November 15, 2018: A charge sheet of more than 5,000 pages in filed alleging a larger conspiracy and Maoist links.

November 17, 2018: Poet activist, Varavara Rao taken into judicial custody

February 21, 2019: Supplementary charge sheet filed claiming that the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers, with which some of the accused were associated, is a front organisation for Maoists.

December 2019 – January 2020: Sharad Pawar, calls for the case to be handed over to a Special Investigation Team and the then Home Minister Anil Deshmukh explored in a meeting the reinvestigation of the case

January 24, 2020: Cases handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) by the Union Government

April 14, 2020: Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha surrender to NIA as their prayer for interim relief, even when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak, was denied

July 25, 2020: NIA interrogates Fr Stan Swamy for nearly 15 hours at his residence in Ranchi.

July 28, 2020: Prof. Hany Babu arrested.

September 8, 2020: Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, and Jyoti Jagtap arrested. They released a video alleging that the NIA tried to get Gorkhe and Gaichor to be witnesses in the Bhima-Koregaon case, and pressured them to falsely admit to visiting Maoist leaders in a jungle in Gadchiroli

October 8, 2020: 83-year-old Father Stan Swamy (now deceased) was arrested

October 10, 2020: Another supplementary charge sheet filed against Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Hany Babu, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Ghaichor, Jyoti Jagtap and Milind Teltumbde (now deceased) claiming that they conspired with the other accused to further the ideology of the banned CPI (Maoist) organisation

October 18 and 22, 2020: Stan Swamy filed for interim bail on medical ground which then denied on October 22, 2020

November 6, 2020: Father Stan Swamy’s request for a straw and sipper owing to his Parkinson’s disease refused; NIA said it does not have the same

December 4, 2020: Father Stan Swamy receives the straw and sipper

November 2020 to January 2021: Several bail pleas of the accused rejected

February 8, 2021: Boston based Arsenal Consulting released a forensic report stating that documents were wrongfully inserted into the hard drive of Rona Wilson using malware

February 22, 2021: Varavara Rao granted bail for six months on medical grounds

March 2021: Fr Stan Swamy’s bail plea denied by special NIA Court

May 19, 2021: While hearing Fr Swamy’s bail appeal, Bombay High Court directs JJ Hospital to form an expert panel to examine Swamy’s health

July 5, 2021: Father Stan Swamy passes away due to cardiac arrest

August 25, 2021: Special NIA court denies bail to Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha

September 22, 2021: Shoma Sen’s plea for bail on medical grounds rejected by special NIA court

December 1, 2021: Bombay high Court grants bail to Sudha Bharadwaj, while bail of Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling and Varavara Rao rejected

December 7, 2021: Supreme Court dismissed NIA’s appeal against Sudha Bharadwaj’s bail

December 9, 2021: Sudha Bharadwaj released from prison

February 14, 2022: Special Court denies bail to Hany Babu and Kabir Kala Manch members Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap

August 10, 2022: Supreme Court grants Varavara Rao bail, removes High Court’s condition to surrender after three months

August 19, 2022: Supreme Court asked NIA Court to decide on framing of charges within 3 months

September 19, 2022: Bombay High Court rejects Hany Babu’s bail plea

May 4, 2022: Bombay High Court rejects review petition filed by Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira seeking default bail

May 5, 2022: Sambhaji Ekbote’s name dropped from the case

October 17, 2022: Bombay high Court denies bail to Jyoti Jagtap

November 10, 2022: Supreme Court granted Gautam Navlakha’s request for house arrest

November 18, 2022: Bombay High Court grants bail to Anand Teltumbde on merits

November 18, 2022: Supreme Court refuses to vacate order directing Gautam Navlakha’s house arrest and directs NIA’ to place him under house arrest within 24 hours          

November 25, 2022: Supreme Court rejects NIA’s appeal against bail of Anand Teltumbde

November 2022: Special NIA court seeks another year of extension for framing charges

December 2022: Another report of Arsenal Consulting shows that multiple incriminating documents were planted in the computer of Father Stan Swamy

January 2022: SC has stated, on January 16 that it will hear the bail pleas of activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira from January 30.

 

Related:

2022: Looking back at the best judgments from Indian courts

On the firing line:  Human rights warriors of 2022

Evidence planted on Jesuit-activist Stan Swamy's laptop: Arsenal US Report

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Videos

Communalism

Bastar violence: Anti-Christian Campaign causes breach in Adivasi unity

Hundreds of Adivasi church-goers across villages in Narayanpur and Bastar, Chhattisgarh have been experiencing boycott, intimidation and violence since December last year, forcing them to leave their homes and live in refugee camps. Reportedly, Adivasi districts across Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh is seeing a rise Hindutva mobilisation against Christians .

Communalism

Bastar violence: Anti-Christian Campaign causes breach in Adivasi unity

Hundreds of Adivasi church-goers across villages in Narayanpur and Bastar, Chhattisgarh have been experiencing boycott, intimidation and violence since December last year, forcing them to leave their homes and live in refugee camps. Reportedly, Adivasi districts across Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh is seeing a rise Hindutva mobilisation against Christians .

IN FACT

Analysis

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Archives