Bhima Koregaon: Documents submitted by Police unverified and inadmissible, Counsel for Sudha Bharadwaj
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Bhima Koregaon: Documents submitted by Police unverified and inadmissible, Counsel for Sudha Bharadwaj

Omkar Gokhale

On the fourth day of the bail hearing in the Bhima Koregaon case before the Bombay High Court, Yug Mohit Chaudhary claimed that the documents submitted by the Pune Police against civil rights activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj are unverified, unsigned and inadmissible under the law.

A Single Bench of Justice Sarang Kotwal is hearing the bail applications of Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, and Arun Ferreira, accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, on a daily basis.

Seeking bail for Bharadwaj, Chaudhary argued that the material produced by the Pune Police, which includes documents allegedly recovered from co-accused Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling, are unverified.

According to the Pune Police, the 3-paged letter recovered from Surendra Gadling, allegedly written by Sudha Bharadwaj to one Comrade Prakash, and another document recovered from co-accused Rona Wilson, establish Bharadwaj’s connection with banned organisations.

Advocate Chaudhary argued,

“Police are relying on typed and unsigned copies of documents recovered from computers of a co-accused and not her (Bharadwaj), to arrest my client, when the elementary proposition of law is to prove authorship and truth of a document.”

Chaudhary went on to claim,

“Police cannot even link those letters to my client through handwriting analysis. Prosecution’s entire case depends on single witness, an Investigation Officer (IO), who saw the seized documents.”

He further submitted that there is no statement recorded under Section 161 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to support the claims of the Police. Section 161 provides for examination of witnesses by the police.

Bharadwaj’s lawyer also referred to an affidavit filed by the IO consisting of minutes of a ‘Mohalla meeting’ of female Naxal members allegedly held on January 2, 2018.

According to the Police, the minutes of the meeting were recovered from accused Rona Wilson. The list of people present for the meeting included Sudha Bharadwaj and Soma Sen, it was claimed.

Contradicting this claim of the Pune Police, Chaudhary argued that call detail records (CDRs) mentioned in the chargesheet however show that Bharadwaj was in Faridabad and Sen was in Mumbai when the alleged meeting was held.

“Their own documents falsify their own minutes in the affidavit filed by the IO,” argued Chaudhary.

While closing his arguments for today, Chaudhary claimed,

“They (prosecution) think that if they chant the mantra of ‘National Security’ loudly and frequently enough, the Court will close its mind and rubber stamp the evidence.”

Chaudhary will continue his arguments on Wednesday next week. Additional Public Prosecutor Aruna Pai will reply thereafter.

Yesterday, Senior Counsel Mihir Desai, arguing for Vernon Gonsalves, had made similar submissions.

“The sum total of evidence against Gonsalves is based on his name mentioned in material found from someone’s computer, that is all.”

Desai  had also submitted  that none of the books seized from Gonsalves’ house are banned under Section 95 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), and are not sufficient to incriminate accused.

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