Bombay High Court seeks State's response in pleas filed by Bhima Koregaon accused Rona Wilson and Shoma Sen

Their pleas stated that they were being targeted for actively raising their voices against injustice and oppression.
Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson
Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday sought for responses from the State in the pleas filed by Bhima Koregaon case accused Rona Wilson and Shoma Sen seeking quashing of the chargesheet against them, alleging fraudulent evidence gathered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Senior Advocates Indira Jaising representing Wilson and Anand Grover for Sen submitted to the Court that they were challenging the sanction granted by the State through the Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, which initiated criminal action against the petitioners.

Jaising submitted that even though NIA had filed a response in one of the pleas, it was the State government and the investigating officer from the Pune Police whose responses were required for the reason that when sanctions were being sought, NIA was not investigating the matter.

"The State government has to speak for itself unless NIA says it will defend the State. There are serious allegations of tampering. The investigating officer in this case failed to record that there was tampering of evidence from the computer belonging to Wilson. He has suppressed information from the sanctioning authority," she submitted.

The Bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale directed the State to ensure that requisite affidavits are filed within four weeks.

Jaising submitted that the Court would be dealing with the concept of "secure evidence" for the first time. The Court responded that they will also need able assistance from all the lawyers in this matter on the technical issues raised in the pleas.

Wilson and Sen had placed reliance upon a report released by US-based forensic consulting firm, Arsenal Consulting to contend that incriminating documents relied upon by the prosecution were planted on their computers prior to the seizure.

Their pleas stated that they were being targeted for actively raising their voices against injustice and oppression. Thus, the FIRs were required to be quashed for violation of their fundamental rights.

They claimed that in any case, the trial had not begun for the past three years and was not likely to start in the foreseeable future.

The petitioners challenged the sanction orders on the ground that they were sanctioned without appreciating the Forensic Science Laboratory report submitted by the prosecution which shows that the laptop was operated during the raid.

Wilson's plea specifically sought for appointment of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge and consisting of experts in digital forensic analysis to probe the alleged planting of documents on his computer by using malware.

NIA had earlier opposed the plea, contending that since the Arsenal Consulting report was not part of the chargesheet, it cannot be be relied upon by Wilson to seek quashing of the chargesheet.

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