The National Investigation Agency on Monday filed draft charges against 15 accused in a special court in Mumbai in the Elgar Parishad case. The draft charges include several sections under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and those under the Indian Penal Code, including sedition, India Today reported.
The special court will now hear arguments from lawyers of the accused and the NIA to decide on the framing of charges against each accused. The court will then ask the accused whether they plead guilty or not for the charges.
Special Public prosecutor Prakash Shetty submitted before the court that the draft charges rely on the chargesheets filed against the accused earlier, The Indian Express reported.
The accused in the case include activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Hany Babu, Anand Teltumbde, Shoma Sen, Gautam Navlakha and others. They remain in prison in Maharashtra for allegedly conspiring to set off caste violence at the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial in a village near Pune in 2018.
The NIA took over the investigation from the Pune Police in January 2020 and filed chargesheet against eight of the accused in October. The Pune Police had filed two chargesheets in November 2018 and February 2019.
On Monday, lawyers of the accused pointed out that several applications filed by them were pending. The lawyers requested the court to dispose them first before framing the charges.
Two of the accused, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor, have five pending applications, including a bail plea, their counsel Advocate Barun Kumar said. Sudha Bharadwaj’s lawyer Advocate Chandni Chawla said that the activist had challenged one of Kotharikar’s order at the Bombay High Court. Shoma Sen’s lawyer also said she has a pending bail plea.
Special NIA Judge DE Kothalikar asked the NIA to file its responses to the applications in the next hearing on August 23, according to PTI.