Bhima-Koregaon case: Being inspired by Marxism is not enough to incriminate me, Arun Ferreira tells Bombay high court
Arguments in the bail application of lawyer and human rights activist Arun Ferreira concluded on Monday in the Bombay high court (HC). Ferreira, along with civil rights lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj and activist Vernon Gonsalves, is in jail for their alleged involvement in the 2017 Elgar Parishad conclave, which purportedly led to the Bhima-Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018.
Ferreira’s counsel, Sudeep Pasbola, submitted before the bench of justice Sarang Kotwal that the books and material recovered from his client’s house did not necessarily mean that they belonged to the activist. Pasbola further said that though Ferreira may have been inspired by Marxist ideology, it was not an adequate ground to incriminate him in the alleged conspiracies of the banned outfit – Communist Party of India (Maoist) (CPI (M)). The outfit is banned due to its activities, including waging war against the government using violent means.
Pasbola informed the court that the documents and letters, as well as the material seized from Ferreira’s house were not sufficient evidence for denial of bail. Pasbola submitted that some of the material, including hand-written notes recovered from Perreira’s home, belonged to his colleague.
Pasbola claimed that his colleague’s family handed over the material to Ferreira after he died in an accident. Pasbola argued that even if the prosecution’s claim that the Elgar Parishad was a conspiracy were to be accepted, there was no proof that could state that he had links with the CPI (M).
He also added that the portrayal of the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) as a frontal organisation of CPI (M) by the prosecution was baseless. “IAPL is an international organisation and just because CPI (M) has infiltrated it through some members, the entire body and all its members can’t be linked to the banned outfit,” said Pasbola.
He then referred to a Supreme Court judgment in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) vs Zahoor Ahmad Shah case and said that the judgment would be applicable in Ferreira’s bail application too. The judgment stated that the admissibility of the documents submitted by the prosecution would have to be considered at the time of the trial. However, for bail, the documents need to be taken on face value.
This was contrary to what Bharadwaj’s advocate Yug Choudhary had argued while making submissions for her bail application. However, advocate Mihir Desai, who appeared for Gonsalves, clarified that though the veracity of documents which the prosecution referred to were not disputed, it was for the court to decide whether there were sufficient reasons in the documents to deny bail.
Additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai will start arguments opposing the bail applications of Gonsalves, Bharadwaj and Ferreira on October 1.