The National Investigation Agency on Monday submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court stating that granting permanent bail to activist Varavara Rao may have a direct impact on “the unity, integrity, security and sovereignty” of the country, the Hindustan Times reported.
Rao, 83, is among the 16 activists who have been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly conspiring to set off caste violence in Bhima Koregaon village near Pune in 2018.
He was arrested on August 28, 2018, from his home in Hyderabad. On February 22, 2021, the Bombay High Court granted him bail on medical grounds and he was released from jail the following month.
Rao then filed a plea in the Supreme Court, seeking permanent bail because of his “advancing age and deteriorating health”.
Last month, a bench headed by Justices UU Lalit, Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia had said that the matter would be heard for the final time on August 10 and sought a response from the National Investigation Agency on Rao’s plea.
Santosh Rastogi, inspector general of the National Investigation Agency, on Monday filed an affidavit, opposing Rao’s plea. He alleged that investigation in the case has revealed that Rao was actively pursuing the Communist Part of India (Maoist) agenda to topple the democratic government, reported the Hindustan Times.
“The act of the petitioner or accused has a direct impact on the unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of India,” read the affidavit. “It is not justifiable for an accused of such offence to seek relief on constitutional grounds when his acts are itself against the interest of state and society.”
Rastogi’s reply relied on the April 13 order of the Bombay High Court, which had rejected Rao’s plea seeking permanent bail on medical grounds.
The High Court bench, however, had extended Rao’s temporary bail by three months so that he could undergo cataract surgery.
Rastogi said that the charges against Rao are “grave and serious”, reported the Hindustan Times.
“There shall be no relief when the offence is against state and public interest,” said the National Investigation Agency.
Rastogi also listed 24 previous criminal cases registered against the activist indicating “continuous unlawful activities” by Rao.
“It is not the case of the prosecution that he was merely supporting, associated or had membership with the said banned organisation, but played an active role in furthering CPI (Maoist) activities,” he alleged.
The plea in Supreme Court
In his plea before the Supreme Court, filed through advocate Nupur Kumar, Rao said that any further incarceration “would ring the death knell for him as advancing age and deteriorating health are a fatal combination”.
Rao said that he suffers from neurological ailments, abdomen pain which could be due to umbilical hernia and asymptomatic Parkinson’s disease. He also submitted that in the totality of circumstances, the trial in the case will take not less than 10 years.
Meanwhile, on June 16, a United States-based cybersecurity company had claimed that the Pune Police hacked electronic devices owned by Rao, and his co-accused Rona Wilson and Hany Wilson in the case.