During a special sitting on Sunday morning, a division bench of the court directed Nagpur police to produce the women before it on Monday. The bench comprising Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Swapna Joshi also restrained the Maharashtra police from contacting the women in any manner.
The lawyer of both the women, Nihalsingh Rathod, had moved a writ of habeas corpus alleging that the women and activists with them were illegally and forcibly abducted from his office by police personnel in plain clothes on Saturday night.
On the intervening night of January 20 and 21, Gadchiroli police had detained the two women when they were walking in the forest. The women aged 35 years old and 23 years old are from a Chhattisgarh village in Narayanpur district adjoining Gadchiroli. Both reportedly came to Gadchiroli to visit their relatives. Police suspected them to be Maoists or their sympathisers and claimed they were detained during the night as a precautionary measure.
However, the next day Sainu Gota, an activist from Gadchiroli, claimed that after being freed, the women had alleged that the police had sexually assaulted them. Gadchiroli police, however, rejected the charges as “baseless”.
Police said the women were produced before a magistrate and they denied the activists’ claims.
When Gota, his wife Sheela, and the two women came to Nagpur to meet lawyer Rathod on Saturday, the Gadchiroli police along with Nagpur police arrested them. The police also registered a case against Gota and his wife on charges of filing a false complaint. Gadchiroli police alleged that the activists cooked up a false case and both women were in their illegal custody.