Prof. Teltumbde's Arrest 'Illegal': Pune Court Releases Him On Bail [Read Order]

Prof. Teltumbde

He was arrested today early morning on allegation of moaist links in relation to Bhima-Koregaon case.

A Pune City Court has released scholar and civil rights activist Anand Teltumbde on bail today evening.

The Pune Police arrested him from Mumbai airport around 3.30 AM today, despite a Supreme Court order which granted him interim protection from arrest for four weeks from January 14.

The Court termed his arrest illegal and amounted to contempt of Supreme Court.

"I have come to the conclusion that the arrest of accused-Anand Teltumbde made by Investigating Officer is against order by Hon'ble Apex Court in Special Leave Petition(Criminal) No.59/2019. Therefore, the impugned arrest of accused-Anand Teltumbde by investigating officer is illegal and also amounts to contempt of order of Hon'ble Apex Court", observed Special Judge K D Vadane of District and Sessions Court Pune, while ordering immediate release of Teltumbde.

The judge also ordered to inform the Supreme Court.

He is facing charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act(UAPA). The Pune police allege that the enquiry into Bhima-Koregaon violence which took place in January 1, 2018 revealed that Teltubmde had links with Maoist organizations.

The prosecutor tried to justify arrest saying that the interim protection afforded by Supreme Court was no longer available after the dismissal of his application for anticipatory bail yesterday. Rejecting this contention, the judge said " Though anticipatory bail no.332/2019 came to be rejected by this court, the accused-Anand Teltumbde has remedy to approach before Hon'ble High Court and Hon'ble Supreme Court for seeking regular/pre-arrest bail within the stipulated period of four weeks from the date of order of Hon'ble Apex Court in Special Leave Petition(Criminal) No.59/2019"

Yesterday, Pune District court rejected his application for pre-arrest bail. Sessions Judge Vadane had observed yesterday that an investigating officer has collected sufficient material against Teltumbde. "In my view, there is sufficient material collected by the investigating officer to show the involvement of the present accused in the alleged commission of the offence," the judge observed.

On December 21, the Bombay High Court dismissed the petition filed by Teltumbde seeking the quashing of the FIR and granted interim protection from arrest for three weeks

Though the High Court's rejection was challenged in SC, it was unsuccessful. The apex Court however granted him interim protection for four weeks, to enable him to seek anticipatory bail.

After the SC declined interference, Teltumbde wrote an open letter stating that he was being framed for his civil rights activism. He termed the charges of Maoist links 'hilarious' and 'strange'. He asserted that he was not even present in Pune during the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima-Koregaon march. He added that he was being linked to Maoist organisations based on 'fabricated letters' published by certain media.

"There is not an iota of unlawfulness in either my voluminous writings or selfless activism. Rather, my entire academic career and corporate career of nearly four decades has been without a single blemish and is exemplar of integrity of the highest degree", he said in the letter.

He also stated that arrest under UAPA charges will have a devastating effect on his life and career. "For me, arrest means not simply the hardship of prison life. It will keep me away from my laptop which has been integral with my body, from my library which has been part of my life, half-written manuscripts of books committed to various publishers, my research papers which are in various stages of completion, my students who staked their future on my professional reputation, my institute that invested so many resources in my name and recently appointed me to its board of governors", he said.

Teltubmde's public appeal gained attention amongst notable intellectuals across the globe. Over 90 organisations, 50 institutions and intellectuals Noam Chomsky, Jean Dreze, Sukhdeo Thorat, Vimal Thorat, Cornel West and Chirstophe Jaffrelot have written to UN secretary general Antonio Guterres asking him to intervene and withdraw the 'fabricated charges' against Anand Teltumbde.

Terming the charges to be "one of the severe most human rights violations" against freedom of speech and dissent, the letter by international civil rights activists said "We therefore urge the United Nations to engage with the Government of India to immediately withdraw all charges against Dr. Teltumbde and oblige in serving justice and protecting democracy from the perils of tyranny. We appreciate an opportunity to meet yourself and your team in person at your earliest convenience and present our concerns".

Teltubmde is an IIM-A alumnus, who turned to civil rights activism after a stint at corporate career in companies like BPCL, Petronet etc. He is an author of 26 books, columnist in the Economic and Political Weekly, Frontier, Outlook India etc. As a democratic rights activists he is General Secretary, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), Maharashtra and an Executive Member of Coordination of Democratic Rights Organization (CDRO). He is also a presidium member of All India Forum for Rights to Education (AIFRTE), an all India movement to achieve equitable and free education to all from KG to PG.

The police has filed chargesheet against the first five arrested persons in the case – lawyer Surendra Gadling, Dalit rights activist Sudhir Dhawale, prisoners' rights activist Rona Wilson, tribal rights activist and TISS alumnus Mahesh Raut and retired Nagpur professor Soma Sen.

Chargesheet is yet to be filed against the other arrested persons- lawyer and academic Sudha Bharadwaj, prison rights activist Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Feriera and Telegu poet and activist Vara Vara Rao. The Bombay High Court had refused to grant extension of time to file charge sheet, beyond the period of 90 days as per Section 43 D of UAPA. However, on Government's appeal, the SC stayed the High Court's order on October 28.

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