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'Fine Balance To Be Maintained Between Societal Interest & Personal Liberty Of Accused' : NIA Court While Rejecting Anand Teltumbde's Bail Plea

Sharmeen Hakim
17 July 2021 5:15 AM GMT
Fine Balance To Be Maintained Between Societal Interest & Personal Liberty Of Accused : NIA Court While Rejecting Anand Teltumbdes Bail Plea
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The Special NIA Court rejecting Dalit Scholar Anand Teltumbde's regular bail plea under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has said it a fine balance has to be maintained between the societal interest and personal liberty of the accused while considering bail applications."The courts considering the bail application are required to maintain fine balance between the societal...

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The Special NIA Court rejecting Dalit Scholar Anand Teltumbde's regular bail plea under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has said it a fine balance has to be maintained between the societal interest and personal liberty of the accused while considering bail applications.


"The courts considering the bail application are required to maintain fine balance between the societal interest vis­-a­-vis personal liberty of the accused by adhering to the fundamental principle of Criminal Jurisprudence", the Court said in the bail order which was uploaded yesterday.

The Court also said that it was bound by the Bombay High Court's observations while refusing him anticipatory bail last year, despite considerations for bail and anticipatory bail being different.

"…This court is of the unhesitant opinion that in view of the findings recorded by the learned Sessions Judge while deciding the application for anticipatory bail that the allegations made against the applicant are prima facie true and that said findings have been confirmed by the Hon'ble High Court, it is not possible to record contrary finding,"Special Judge DE Kothalikar observed in his 40-page order.

The Special Judge said that even otherwise, since he has independently concluded that the allegations against Teltumbde are prima facie true, considering the rider under section 43­D(­5) of the UAP Act, a case for bail was not made out.

"Upon perusal of the documents, including the exchange of emails and the statements of the witnesses relied upon by the prosecution, and after cross-checking the truthfulness of the allegations made against the applicant, this court does not find that the accusations are inherently improbable or wholly unbelievable."

Teltumbde, 70, was arrested by the NIA in the Bhima Koregaon – Elgar Parishad Case on April 14, last year and applied for bail on merits in the special Court on January 13, 2021.Teltumbde was booked under sections 121, 121A, 124A, 153A, 505(1)(b), 117, 120b r/w 34 of the IPC and sections 13,16,17,18,18-B,20,38,39 and 40 of the UAPA along with 14 other activists.

Father Stan Swamy, the 16th accused to be arrested, passed away last Monday.

NIA has accused Teltumbde of being an active member of the banned CPI (Maoist) and Convenor of the Elgar Parishad conference held on December 31, 2017, which allegedly led to the caste-based violence at Bhima Koregaon the following day. He, however, refuted the allegations stating that he visited Pune for a wedding and left before the event even started.

The court cited the following reasons while rejecting his bail application –

Educational Qualification and Social Background need not be considered while deciding bail

Teltumbde relied heavily on his academic record of being an MBA from IIM, the CEO of Petronet India Limited up to 2010 and being invited to join the board of Governors of the Goa Institute of Management in 2020, while seeking bail.

However, the court said that it was required to maintain a fine balance between the societal interest vis­-a-vis personal liberty of the accused by adhering to the fundamental principle of Criminal Jurisprudence. Therefore, his educational qualification and social background could not be considered.

Testing Admissibility of Letters and Emails Would Amount to a Mini Trial

Teltumbde though his lawyer Sudeep Pasbola argued that a prima facie view of allegations against him being true could not be based on inadmissible documents like letters and emails the NIA submitted.

The court accepted the prosecution's evidence in its entirety, including these letters. The judge relied on National InvestigationAgency Vs. Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watalicaseand said that accepting Pasbola's submissions would amount to having a mini-trial at the stage of grant of bail, which is not permissible.

The documents cited included a letter allegedly written by 'Prakash' to 'Anand' recovered from co-accused Rona Wilson's laptop. The letter mentions "Anand's visit to Paris for Human Rights Convention to be held on April 9 and 10, 2018 and lectures on Dalit issues in order to give traction to domestic chaos."

The court relied heavily on the documents/letters recovered from co-accused Rona Wilson's laptop to accept the prosecution's argument that prima facie Teltumbde was an active member of the banned CPI (Maoist) organisation.

Wilson has approached the Bombay High Court seeking formation of an SIT to investigate the planting of these documents on his laptop.

Hearsay Evidence

Pasbola argued that the statements of protected witnesses could not be relied upon as they contained inadmissible hearsay material. However, the prosecution cited these statements to allege that Teltumbde inspired his brother Milind, a wanted Maoist leader, to join the movement and shared "banned literature" from his international conferences with him.

The court found substance in Special Public Prosecutior Prakash Shetty's arguments, for the NIA, that these need to be considered as "wanted accused (Milind) is the best person to state as to by whose conduct or activities he was being impressed and therefore, in my view the statement made by the wanted accused (to the witnesses) that he was impressed by the applicant for furthering the activities of banned terrorist organisation can be said to be relevant and as such."

[Dr Anand Teltumbde vs State of Maharashtra (through NIA]

Click here to read/download the order


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