Accused lawyer says he doesn’t want to depose before Koregaon Bhima inquiry panel

Gadling was produced before the commission Friday. (Express photo/Pavan Khengre)

Surendra Gadling, an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, on Friday appeared before the Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry for a scheduled deposition, but instead submitted an application stating that he didn t want to depose as it will cause prejudice to him in his defence before the trial court.

Gadling and activist Sudhir Dhawale, a co-accused in the same case, had last year filed their applications before the commission through advocate Siddharth Patil, stating that they should be called upon to depose before the commission so as to bring to light certain facts that they were privy to. Gadling and Dhawale were among the activists arrested in June last year by Pune City Police over their alleged links with the CPI-Maoist, a banned outfit.

They are currently lodged in Yerwada Central Prison.

The commission had summoned Gadling for a deposition on Friday while Dhawale was asked to depose on Saturday.

Accordingly, Gadling was brought before the commission on Friday, but he tendered an application stating that he didn t want to depose. He told the commission that the deposition will cause prejudice to him in his defence before the trial court , where he is facing serious charges. He also tendered his apology for causing inconvenience to the commission. The commission, headed by former Calcutta High Court Chief Justice J N Patel, then discharged the lawyer and he was sent back to jail.

When asked if Dhawale will depose, Gadling said he didn t know anything about that as the two accused were kept in separate barracks and not allowed to interact with each other. I am in Suraksha cell and Dhawale has been kept in the Anda Cell inside Yerwada Central Prison, said Gadling. The commission contacted Yerwada Central Prison officials to ask whether Dhawale was willing to depose.

We have been told that Dhawale wants to depose and so he will be brought before the commission on September 7, said advocate Ashish Satpute, the lawyer for the commission.

Advocate Shishir Hiray, the lawyer representing Maharashtra government, said, Gadling had filed an application in July last year saying he wanted to depose before the commission. We were prepared to examine him before the commission. But he took a U-turn, saying he didn t want to depose and cited shallow reasons.

Advocate Niteen Pradhan, who represents Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote, accused of instigating violence in Koregaon Bhima area on January 1, 2018, Jayesh Shinde, a victim of the violence, and Balasaheb Jamadar, the in-charge of the Jaystambh , a war memorial in the area, were also present on Friday, along with other lawyers including advocates B G Bansode, Kiran Channe, Pushkar Durge, Pradip Gavade and Rahul Makhare.

The Koregaon Bhima Inquiry Commission was set up by the state government last year to probe the causes of the violence, in which one person died and several others were injured.

Meanwhile, the commission allowed Gadling to meet activist Harshali Potdar, another accused in the Elgaar Parishad case who hasn t been arrested.

Police have so far booked 23 persons in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case, alleging they were active members of the banned CPI-Maoist.

In the chargesheet filed against Dhawale, Gadling and others, Pune City Police has alleged that as per the objectives decided in the Eastern Regional Bureau meeting of the CPI-Maoist, the accused organised Elgaar Parishad ahead of the 200th commemoration of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, under the banner of Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Prerna Din Abhiyaan and mobilised various organisations against the government.