Mumbai: Trade unionist, human rights lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj through her advocate Yug Chaudhry claimed that the special judge, who extended the time to file chargesheet into the Bhima Koregaon violence case, and also took cognisance of the chargesheet, was not a special judge under the National Investigation Agency Act.
“The main challenge in the petition is to the two orders passed by Judge KD Vadne, claiming to be a special judge,” contested Chaudhry, before the bench of justice SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar.
“We have received RTIs from the High Court which shows that Mr Vadne was not a special judge under the NIA Act. Special judges were sitting in Pune court despite which the Pune police went to this particular judge,” argued Chaudhry. Chaudhry went on to read out the RTI reply from the High Court which stated that judge KD Vadne was not appointed as Special Judge either under section 11 or 22 of the NIA Act.
Chaudhry pointed out that Pune police did not file a reply despite several opportunities, and also stated that the police has not denied any claims in the petition. “How is this man calling himself a special judge?” questioned Chaudhry.
“If he was not a special judge, then he had no business handling the case,” contested Chaudhry and went on to state that it affected not only Bharadwaj but also eight others in the case. “If our petition is allowed, then the orders of extension of time, the acceptance of chargesheet, and the chargesheet in its entirety are null and void,” said Chaudhry.
Chaudhry also pointed out that Judge SR Navandar, who came after Judge Vadne, never claimed to be a special judge. “When a man sitting in the seat of a judge claims to be something he is not, this shakes the very bedrock of the judicial system,” said Chaudhry.
On NIA's claims that they had taken over the case only in 2020, Chaudhry said, “If the NIA Act does not apply as per the NIA’s affidavit then the jurisdiction would lie with a magistrate and not with sessions judge Mr Vadne.”
The bench wished to verify the RTI information from the High Court registry and asked the state government to furnish documents and adjourned the hearing to July 8.