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BREAKING| Supreme Court Dismisses NIA's Plea Against Bail Granted To Anand Teltumbde In Bhima Koregaon Case

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
25 Nov 2022 9:34 AM GMT
BREAKING| Supreme Court Dismisses NIAs Plea Against Bail Granted To Anand Teltumbde In Bhima Koregaon Case
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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the special leave petition filed by the National Investigation Agency challenging the Bombay High Court order granting bail to Professor Anand Teltumbde in the Bhima Koregaon case.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli however added that the High Court's observations will not be treated as conclusive final findings at the trials.

While granting bail to Teltubmde, the High Court division bench of Justices AS Gadkari and Milind Jadhav made a prima facie observation that there was no evidence for the offence of terrorist activity against Teltumbde.

During the hearing today, the CJI also inquired as to what is the role attributable to Teltumbde.

"What is the specific role to bring UAPA sections into action? The IIT Madras event you alleged is for mDalit mobilisation. Is Dalit mobilisation preparatory act to proscribed activity?" CJI asked ASG Aishwarya Bhati appearing for the NIA.

The chargesheet filed against Teltumbde alleges that he conspired to further the ideology of banned CPI(Maoist) and to overthrow the government.

"In this matter there are charges under as many as 8 Sections of UAPA...The High Court errs in this that it says that the material that the prosecution has shown does not inspire confidence qua Section 15, 18 and 20," ASG Bhati submitted. She went on to cite several documents revealing Teltumbde's 'deep involvement" with with CPI(M).

However, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Teltumbde informed the Court that none of those documents were recovered from Teltumbde. The emails purportedly sent by Teltubmde were allegedly recovered from the computer of co-accused Rona Wilson. Sibal also said that Teltumbde was estranged from his brother Milind Teltumbde, a Maoist leader who was killed in encounter with security forces last year. "I have not met him for last 30 years", Sibal said. The NIA's case linking Milind to Anand is based on a hearsay evidence, which is given in a statement recorded under Section 161 CrPC, which is inadmissible in evidence, Sibal added.

"The High Court says there is no document to connect me with terrorist activity. He was not even at the Elgar Parishad event. They have not shown anything to show that he was there."

Courtroom Exchange

Bhati referred to an undated letter by the Central Committee of CPIM, a proscribed organisation under the UAPA, which allegedly refers to Teltumbde as 'Dear Comrade Anand'. She also read in Court a letter allegedly written by an active member of CPI(M), stating that 'Comrade Teltumbde' made pertinent suggestions to enhance student participation in the programme commemorating 50 years of Naxalbari movement.

She also cited a letter allegedly written to Teltumbde, recovered from co-accused Rona Wilson's laptop. The letter allegedly mentions Teltumbde'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. Bhati informed the Court that most of these documents were encrypted and had PGP keys.

However, Sibal contended that the institute in Paris has already written to the NIA, clarifying that the institution had borne the expenses. "That was for academic work," he claimed.

The agency alleged that Teltumbde travelled abroad to share banned literature through lectures. "Goa Institute of Management gave us details of the travel of the accused...These are not official travels." Bhati added that Teltumbde's younger brother Milind, who was killed in an encounter in November 2021, was inspired by him.

However Sibal submitted that Anand Teltumbde was estranged from his younger brother for 30 years.

Bhati argued that Teltumbde played an active role and received funds for carrying out activities of the banned organisation. "Under UAPA, it is not necessary terrorist act is to be carried out. There is preparatory act carried out for proscribed organisation," she said.

Here, CJI Chandrachud asked the agency as to what is the role attributable to Teltumbde. "What is the specific role to bring UAPA sections into action? The IIT Madras event you alleged he is mobilising dalit mobilisation. Is Dalit mobilisation preparatory act to proscribed activity?"

Bhati responded that he is a professor and is free to give lectures. However, she added that since he has links with a banned organization and has even received funds, they cannot merely rely on the 'front face'. Asserting that goes on backdoors is also important, ASG cited some documents alleging Teltumbde wanted all Dalits to join CPI(M).

Sibal asserted that none of the documents were recovered from Teltumbde. "These have no relation to any provisions of the UAPA, and this is written by someone else, not me. The threshold under the Act is very high."

Background

The 73-year old former IIT professor and Dalit scholar was arrested by the NIA on April 14, 2020, after he surrendered before the agency following Supreme Court orders in connection with the alleged Maoist connections in the Bhima Koregaon case.

While granting bail to Teltubmde, the High Court division bench of Justices AS Gadkari and Milind Jadhav made a prima facie observation that there was no evidence for the offence of terrorist activity against Teltumbde.

The court noted that Teltumbde had travelled extensively for giving lectures at prestigious institutes like the London School of Economics, Harvard University, MIT, Michigan University and merely because his brother was a wanted CPI(Maoist) accused doesn't implicate him in his alleged links to the banned organisation.

"It is seen that Appellant is a man of intellectual prominence in the field of Dalit ideology / movement and merely because he is the elder brother of wanted accused Milind Teltumbde who had gone underground 30 years ago to espouse the cause of CPI(M) cannot be a sole ground to indict the Appellant and link him to the activities of CPI(M)."

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