A Special court in Mumbai on Saturday rejected the bail application filed by academician and scholar Anand Teltumbde and remanded him to judicial custody till May 8. The 70-year-old Teltumbde is accused of having Maoist links and inciting the caste based violence which took place on January 1, 2018, in relation to the Bhima Koregaon incident.
Judge DE Kothalikar of Special NIA Court heard the bail application filed by Teltumbde's lawyers R Satyanarayanan and Arif Siddiqui who also filed a separate application seeking medical aid as the accused is suffering from respiratory problems and is thus vulnerable to the coronavirus.
More importantly, it was contended by the defence lawyers that an Assistant Sub-Inspector at NIA in Mumbai has tested positive for coronavirus. The prosecution confirmed that an officer had tested positive but all those who came in contact with the officer have been directed to self-quarantine. It was also submitted that Teltumbde has also been tested and the report came in as negative.
The Supreme Court in its order dated April 8 had granted one week time to both Anand Teltumbde and fellow accused, journalist Gautam Navlakha to surrender before NIA in relation to the case filed under various offences of IPC and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The bail plea stated that the accused has been diagnosed with reduced respiratory airflow and in case of severe infection there is a high chance that symptoms get aggravated which may lead to acute stress on the respiratory system. Furthermore, the plea argued that due to the "closed and cramped conditions in jails" the accused is highly susceptible to the deadly virus thus sending him to jail poses a serious threat to his life and well-being.
Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Shetty opposed the plea and said the charges against the accused are serious in nature. Moreover, he referred to the criteria fixed by the High Power Committee for releasing prisoners/undertrials on parole due to the pandemic of coronavirus. The said Committee was constituted by the State following Supreme Court's directions in an order dated March 23.
As per the High Power Committee, only those prisoner/undertrials accused for offences under the Indian Penal Code punishable with a sentence upto 7 years can be released on parole, but those accused under special enactments like UAPA, NDPS, MCOCA, PMLA, MPID etc are not eligible.
On April 14, Teltumbde, who is the grandson-in-law of Dr.BR Ambedkar, had surrendered before the NIA office in Mumbai and Gautam Navlakha had surrendered before the NIA office in Delhi.