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Elgar Parishad case: Bail pleas of Shoma Sen, Varavara Rao rejected

By Charul Shah, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUN 26, 2020 11:29 PM IST

The special National Investigating Agency (NIA) court on Friday rejected the interim bail plea filed by Telugu poet P Varavara Rao and activist Dr Shoma Sen, booked for their role in the Elgar Parishad case.

The two had approached the special court for interim bail over the spread of Covid-19 in prison and claimed that they suffer from several health issues, making them vulnerable to the virus. The plea was objected by NIA on the ground that they are booked under provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), hence are not entitled to interim bail.

Meanwhile, the special court on Friday heard arguments on the plea of civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha, one of the accused in the case, for bail, as the agency failed to submit charge sheet within a stipulated time frame. The plea was heard through video conferencing whereby Anil Singh, additional solicitor general opposed the plea.

The lawyer for Navlakha contended that the agency ought to have submitted the charge sheet against Navlakha within 90 days of his arrest. The defence has also considered the period of 35 days after his arrest by Pune police in 2018. Navlakha was first arrested by the Pune police on August 28, 2018, but the Delhi High court had quashed his arrest on October 1, 2018.

After his release, Navlakha was arrested again on April 14 as his plea for anticipatory bail was rejected by all courts. Since his arrest, he is in custody.

The plea was opposed by Singh claiming that the order of Delhi high court is challenged and the appeal is pending before the Apex Court. Hence, Singh who represented NIA, claimed that the period of 35 days from August 28, 2018, till October 1, 2018, cannot be considered for grant of bail on the ground of failure of the agency to file a charge sheet.

The court would hear further arguments on the bail as well as on the plea of NIA for his custody on July 10.

Meanwhile, another accused lawyer Arun Ferreira and human right activist Rona Wilson booked in the case too have approached the court for release from the jail. The two have written mail to the court and sought parole due to spread of Covid-19 in the prison. The plea is objected by the NIA on the ground that they have played a crucial role in the conspiracy.

In the reply filed on the plea of Wilson the agency claimed that he was part of the conspiracy to eliminate Prime minister of the country. It is also alleged that he was an active member of the group. The NIA has further alleged that provisions of parole are not available for undertrial prisoners, it is only available for convicted prisoners.

The said pleas are also scheduled for hearing on July 10.

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