The court observed that the evidence available against them at this stage cannot justify continued detention.
Nearly five years after their arrest under the UAPA for alleged Maoist links in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence case, activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira have been granted bail by the Supreme Court. The “materials available against them at this stage cannot justify continued detention”, the court observed.
The two were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and jailed in August 2018.
The top court bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Sudhanshu Dhulia on Friday said that the five-year-long incarceration of the activists makes them eligible for bail despite the charges being “grave”.
The court noted that Gonsalves was earlier convicted of offences, including under the UAPA, and had cases pending against him, and imposed a series of conditions for the bail. It stated that the two activists must not leave Maharashtra without the trial court’s permission and should surrender their passports with the NIA, among other conditions.
Over the years, the police and the central agencies arrested a hoard of activists and academicians in the Bhima Koregaon case, including Stan Swamy, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Vavlakha, Varavara Rao and Sudha Bharadwaj. Newslaundry has reported extensively on how in most of these arrests, rights and rules were violated. Read here.
This report delved into the weak case against writer Anand Teltumbde, while this detailed the apathy of the authorities towards activist Stan Swamy, who died in prison after being denied medical care. In this interview, human rights lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj had spoken about her journey and what shaped her ideology.