Elgar Parishad case: HC says evidence against Anand Teltumbde insufficient, grants him bail | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Elgar Parishad case: HC says evidence against Anand Teltumbde insufficient, grants him bail

ByK A Y Dodhiya
Nov 19, 2022 12:37 AM IST

Mumbai: “We are of the prima-facie opinion that on the basis of material placed before us by NIA, it cannot be concluded that Appellant has indulged into a terrorist act,” the Bombay high court (HC) said on Friday while granting bail to Elgar Parishad case accused Anand Teltumbde

Mumbai: “We are of the prima-facie opinion that on the basis of material placed before us by NIA, it cannot be concluded that Appellant has indulged into a terrorist act,” the Bombay high court (HC) said on Friday while granting bail to Elgar Parishad case accused Anand Teltumbde.

Pune, India - February 2, 2019: Anand Teltumbde leaving Pune Court after he was released in Pune, India, on Saturday, February 2, 2019. (Photo by Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
Pune, India - February 2, 2019: Anand Teltumbde leaving Pune Court after he was released in Pune, India, on Saturday, February 2, 2019. (Photo by Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)

The 56-page order delivered by the division bench of justice AS Gadkari and justice Milind Jadhav also added, “The material placed on record prima-facie does not inspire confidence to bring the Appellant’s act as alleged for the punishment prescribed under Sections 16, 18 and 20 of the UAP Act..”

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Dalit activist and scholar Teltumbde approached the HC after the special NIA court rejected his bail application in July 2021, 15 months after he surrendered based on the directions of the Supreme Court (SC). Teltumbde had been lodged at Taloja jail along with the other accused in the case.

While arguing for Teltumbde, senior advocate Mihir Desai had submitted that the 73-year-old was known for his independent thoughts and has authored 26 books and hence was invited to attend many conferences across the world.

Desai had informed the bench that Teltumbde was not connected to the Elgar Parishad event in December 2017 and had criticised the event after receiving the pamphlet for the event, for which he was criticised.

However, after the Bhima Koregaon incident, in the course of the investigation, the Pune police and later the NIA incriminated him.

Desai added that he was named as an accused claiming that he was a member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) just because he was the brother of another accused Milind Teltumbde. The bench was told that Anand had not met or spoken to his brother in 30 years, but the NIA booked him under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act based on the statement of a witness which was not corroborated and can be referred to as hearsay.

Desai had further stated that the allegations that Teltumbde’s name had surfaced from the evidence recovered from other accused were also not corroborated, hence as the trial would take a long time and he had already been in jail for more than two years, he should be granted bail.

On the other hand, special public prosecutor Sandesh Patil for NIA had argued that Teltumbde had been actively permeating the CPI (M) ideology and had also helped his brother before and after the Bhima Koregaon incident because of which Milind had urged exploitation of the incident. Patil furnished documents to show that Anand had been actively promoting CPI (M) ideology in urban areas and was also getting literature from the conferences he attended abroad and shared them with his brother.

Patil further submitted that as Anand Teltumbde was heading a frontal organisation of CPI (M) his role could not be overlooked in the Bhima Koregaon incident.

Patil submitted that the evidence recovered from the laptop of another accused put him at par with the other accused Hany Babu and Jyoti Jagtap.

The bench observed in its order, “Referring to NIA’s submission on letter recovered by it from the laptop of one of the co-accused, claiming that ‘Anand T’ had received 90,000 from co-accused Surendra (Gadling) through ‘Milind (Teltumbde)’, the bench said that agency’s claim “would require further corroboration and evidence” and “prima-facie it appears that the same has not been brought on record.”

The bench noted that the said document was unsigned,” therefore “ at this prima facie stage” the court cannot presume that ‘Anand T’ received the said amount as argued by NIA. “We are afraid to state that we cannot agree with NIA’s contention.

The bench referred to another document submitted by the NIA which referred to ‘Anand’ as a central committee member of the CPI (Maoist). It said that the probability of the same being related to another person as claimed by the appellant “cannot be ruled out unless the material is shown to the contrary.” It also noted that the witness who gave a statement in the case had not specifically seen the appellant had met his brother and his statement was ‘hearsay evidence.”

It also noted that NIA’s claim that the appellant had been involved in activities to further the ideology of the banned group to overthrow the state needs further corroboration.

“Considering the fact that Appellant has no criminal antecedents and he being behind bars for more than two and half years, in our opinion, a case for grant of bail has been made out,” the bench said in its order and granted bail.

Thereafter, at the request of NIA, the bench stayed in the operation of its order for a week to permit the agency to challenge the order in the SC.

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