All documents handed over to Elgar Parishad case accused; defence says hard drives empty
Part of the documents seized from nine activists arrested in the Elgar Parishad case were submitted to them in a Pune court on Wednesday even as the activists objected saying that the submitted documents were not what was requested by them.
With all the documents submitted, unless the accused activists have any other objection, charges in the case can be framed. While four activists were arrested in June 2018, five were arrested in August 2018 in the case.
The arguments happened in the court of additional sessions judge S Navandar.
Three of the nine copies were submitted during the last hearing in November; they were accepted by three accused under protest. During that hearing, judge Navandar had said that the case is ready for trial if the accused are ready for it.
The lawyers of the three accused alleged that two of the three sets of hard drives that were given to them were not accessible. Advocate Barun Kumar of the defence said that the drives were blank.
To this, Ujjwala Pawar, district government pleader and public prosecutor in the case said, “On one hand you are saying they were blank that means you opened it. And on the other hand, you are saying that you could not open it.”
Shivaji Pawar, assistant commissioner of police and investigation officer of the case, said, “What kind of connector you use also matters.”
Due to the lack of a pre-defined protocol in the field of electronic evidence, chaos ensued in the court as both the sides started arguing about whether the documents given to the accused were what had been promised to them.
“These are the documents of the analysis reports that you have made and not the actual documents which were seized from us,” said a lawyer amid the chaos. However, forensic expert Sonali Fulbale told the court that the two hard drives that were given to each of the accused contained the cloned copies of the original documents as well as the police report.
To this, judge Navandar said, “The FSL is a third part in this. They have no reason to lie in this matter.” Fulbale also submitted a written document describing the process used to prepare each of the 20 drives (nine accused and one court copy).
Eight of the nine accused activists - Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves, Shoma Sen, Sudha Bhardwaj, Arun Ferriera, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, and Surendra Gadling - were present in court and accepted the copies after the procedure was over. VV Rao was absent due to health issues and was in the hospital.