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Bombay High Court Grants Bail To Bhima Koregaon Accused Anand Teltumbde

Sharmeen Hakim
18 Nov 2022 5:46 AM GMT
Anand Teltumbdes Letters Alleged Planting of Evidence on Computer, Hampering Case, Therefore Restricted – NIA

The Bombay High Court on Friday granted bail to former IIT professor and Dalit scholar Prof. Anand Teltumbde, booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case.

A division bench of Justices AS Gadkari and Milind Jadhav passed the order on an appeal filed by Teltumbde in 2021 challenging the rejection of his bail application on merits by the Special NIA Court. The 73-year-old was arrested by the NIA on April 14, 2020, after he surrendered before the agency following Supreme Court orders.

The court observed that prima facie offences under sections 13 (Punishment for unlawful activities), 16 (punishment for terrorist act) and 18 (punishment for conspiracy) of the UAPA were not made out and only section 38 and 39 (membership and support to a terrorist organisation) were made out. Bail has been granted on execution of PR Bond of Rs. 1 lakh and two sureties. However, the court has granted the NIA one week to approach SC and stayed the bail order till then.

NIA accused Teltumbde of being the Convenor of the Elgar Parishad conference held on December 31, 2017, which allegedly led to violence at Bhima Koregaon the following day, resulting in the death of one person.

The probe into the violence was expanded by the Pune Police and later the NIA that alleged a conspiracy to assassinate the Prime Minister and overthrow democracy in the country.

The NIA has claimed that Teltumbde is an active member of the banned CPI (Maoists) and was "deeply involved in furtherance of its agenda." Opposing his bail application, the NIA also accused Teltumbde of inspiring his late brother – Milind –, to join the movement and shared "banned literature" from his international conferences with him.

Milind was shot death by security forces last year itself. He allegedly was the Secretary of the (Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh) unit of the banned CPI(M).

Anand Teltumbde, a Dalit scholar married to Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar's granddaughter Rama, had said in his bail application that he is critical of Maoist ideology and hasn't contacted his brother for the past 25 years.

Teltumbde, claimed that statements of two protected witnesses used to make these allegations against him were "prima facie tutored with a desperate attempt to corroborate the prosecution's case." He said that while he did visit Pune on the day of the Elgar Parishad conference, he left before it even began.

In their reply, NIA cited a letter written by 'Prakash' to 'Anand,' recovered from co-accused Rona Wilson's laptop. The letter allegedly 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."

"During this period, domestic chaos related to Dalit issues was only the Koregaon-Bhima incident. The letter ended with exhortations to their intellectual comrades to keep the fire ablaze," NIA's reply read.

Teltumbde said that the document was recovered from Wilson's computer, and there was no corroboration to show he even received the letter or it was acted upon. And while he did attend a conference in Paris, there was proof to show the organisers paid for the visit. Infact, the organisers also complained to the French embassy regarding the allegations levelled against the University.

Several such controversial documents that allegedly mention a conspiracy to assassinate the Prime Minister and overthrow the government, which form the heart of the investigation against the 16 academics, lawyers and human rights activists accused in the case have come under a cloud of suspicion, after a digital forensics consulting company in the USA concluded that they were planted.

Arsenal Consulting's reports said Wilson and advocate Surendra Gadling's computers were infected with malware called NetWire (available for $10 online), which was planted through emails over several months before their arrest.

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

Teltumbde faces charges 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 in July 2021.

Teltumbde was represented by Senior Advocate Mihir Desai and Advocate Devyani Kulkarni while the NIA was represented by SPP Sandesh Patil.

Also Read : 'Prima Facie Can't Say Anand Teltumbde Was Involved In Any Terrorist Activity Under UAPA': Bombay High Court In Bail Order

Click here to read/download the order

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