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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Bhima Koregaon case: Court sets activist Anand Teltumbde free, raps police for ‘contempt of court’

“The evidences in the form of letters submitted before the court by the police in sealed envelopes are completely fabricated,” Teltumde said soon after his release.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2019 23:24 IST
Nadeem Inamdar
Nadeem Inamdar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Anand Teltumbde (centre) leaving a court in Pune after he was released  on Saturday.
Anand Teltumbde (centre) leaving a court in Pune after he was released on Saturday. (Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
         

In a major embarrassment to Pune Police, a city court on Saturday termed the arrest of Dalit scholar and management professor Anand Teltumbde in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case as illegal and ordered his immediate release.

The Goa-based scholar was arrested by Pune Police at Mumbai domestic airport early Saturday morning and produced in a Pune court at 3 pm. The police action followed the rejection of Teltumde’s anticipatory bail application on Friday. In his order, Special Judge Kishore D Vadane termed Teltumde’s arrest as “contempt of court” after the Supreme Court had granted him four weeks protection from arrest till February 11.

He observed: “Taking into consideration all the facts and circumstances, I have come to the conclusion that the arrest of accused Anand Teltumbde made by investigating officer is against impugned order of Hon Apex Court. Therefore, impugned arrest of accused Teltumbde is illegal one and also amounts to contempt of court. Teltumbde be released forthwith and inform to the Hon Apex Court accordingly,” the order stated.

The court objected to his arrest despite the Supreme Court giving him protection from arrest till February 11.

“The evidences in the form of letters submitted before the court by the police in sealed envelopes are completely fabricated,” Teltumbde said soon after his release.

There was heavy police presence within and outside the court premises where policemen frisked visitors and asked them switch off their mobile phones.

The Dalit writer through his lawyer Rohan Nahar had filed an application for appropriate action under the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 against the investigating officer for his illegal arrest.

Advocate Nahar argued that the Supreme Court while disposing a Special Leave Petition had stated: “We extend interim protection for a period of four weeks from today within which the petitioner may seek regular/pre-arrest bail from competent authority, if so advised.”

Nahar submitted that it was clear from this order that protection offered to Teltumbde was in force till February 11. He charged that the State of Maharashtra and the investigating officer had wilfully disobeyed the order of the SC while arresting Teltumbde.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar submitted that the Supreme Court granted four week’s time to file anticipatory bail application. She said that protection was not operated after dismissal of application under section 438 of Cr P C before trial court and the Supreme

Court did not anticipate that the application will be dismissed.

Pawar submitted that trial court rejected the anticipatory bail on Friday and did not pass any order of protection in the matter and therefore the arrest cannot be illegal.

Judge Vadane observed that the interim protection by the apex court to Teltumbde had been extended for a period of four weeks till February 11. Moreover, the competent authority for seeking regular or pre-arrest bail, included the High Court and Supreme Court. He said that the accused “has remedy to approach the HC and SC for seeking bail within stipulated period of four weeks from the date of order of SC.”

Teltumbde described the allegation of the Pune police that he is associated with the banned CPI (Maoist) as ‘a big joke’.

“The police can go to any extent to fabricate evidence. My arrest has caused a major embarrassment and it is an invasion of my privacy. You ask the police why they are targeting me. I have been critical of the governments be it Congress, BJP or any other political party for their anti-people policies,” he said.

An IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus and a former professor at IIT Kharagpur, Teltumbde is presently a professor at the Goa Institute of Management. He has been accused of having links with CPI Maoist. His arrest has been preceded by that of 10 civil and human rights activists in connection with the Elgar Parishad case.

According to police, Maoists had supported the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, and the inflammatory speeches there led to violent clashes at the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial the next day.