Elgar Parishad case: Anand Teltumbde moves court against NIA’s extension of his custody

In his plea, he challenged the order, saying the extension on July 12 was not as per the norms laid down under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and hence should be set aside
Dalit scholar Anand Teltumbde (centre).(HT File)
Dalit scholar Anand Teltumbde (centre).(HT File)
Published on Sep 11, 2020 06:07 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | ByK A Y Dodhiya

Anand Teltumbde, one of the intellectuals accused of conspiring with Maoists to foment violence in Maharashtra’s Bhima Koregaon village two years ago, moved the Bombay High Court on Friday against a National Investigation Agency (NIA) court’s order extending his custody by 90 days last month.

In his plea, he challenged the order, saying the extension on July 12 was not as per the norms laid down under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and hence should be set aside. Teltumbde, who is lodged in Mumbai’s Taloja jail along with other accused in the case, added the special court should be ordered to grant him bail. The plea is expected to be heard next week as justice Revati Mohite Dere on Friday recused from hearing it after it came up before a bench she headed.

The plea said Teltumbde on July 12 completed 90 days in custody. But as the investigation had not been completed in the case, the extension of his custody was sought along with that of his co-accused, Gautam Navlakha. Teltumbde surrendered to the NIA on April 14 as per a Supreme Court direction.

NIA cited the Covid19 pandemic and voluminous draft of the charge sheet and said that is why it has been unable to file it. It added that interrogation of witnesses and perusal of forensic evidence was also pending due to the pandemic while seeking the extension of Teltumbde and Navlakha’s custody as per the Section 43 (D) of the UAPA. The section says the extension for 90 days can be sought citing if there are compelling reasons for it.

Teltumbde’s plea said the special court did not heed the information provided in NIA’s application for the extension to his custody. It added the application said “sufficient evidence has been being collected” and added the special court did not abide by a Supreme Court order which states that a person cannot be detained beyond 90 days if investigators are unable to complete the investigation and file a charge sheet within that period.

Teltumbde said his custody would not contribute towards the recording of statements of witnesses or receiving forensic reports. Hence, the special court should not have granted the 90-day extension.

The violence in Bhima Koregaon was triggered a day after an event called Elgar Parishad was held in Pune on December 31, 2017. Hundreds of activists attended the event. Investigators say that speeches made at the event, which Maoists allegedly funded, aggravated caste clashes that broke out in Bhima Koregaon during the bicentennial celebration of a British-era war Dalits commemorate. One person died in the clashes that also sparked widespread protests by Dalit groups that shut down Maharashtra later that month.

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