The Bombay High Court on Monday rejected a bail petition filed by Delhi University professor Hany Babu, one of the accused persons in the Elgar Parishad case, PTI reported.

A bench comprising Justices Nitin Jamdar and NR Borkar passed the order. Babu had approached the High Court after a special National Investigation Agency court rejected his plea in February.

The Elgar Parishad event took place in Pune on December 31, 2017, a day before violent clashes broke out between Maratha and Dalit groups near the Bhima Koregaon village in Maharashtra. Sixteen people were arrested for allegedly plotting the violence.

The National Investigation Agency has alleged that the event was part of a larger Maoist conspiracy to stoke caste violence, destabilise the central government and assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Babu was arrested in July 2020, and has been lodged at the Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai since then. The National Investigation Agency has accused him of being a member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and being involved in the conspiracy to assassinate Modi.

The Delhi University professor, in his bail petition, claimed that the purported letters that mentioned the conspiracy did not incriminate him, according to Bar and Bench. In June, an article in the Wired magazine had said that the Pune Police had hacked electronic devices owned by Babu and two other accused persons – Rona Wilson and Varavara Rao – and planted fake evidence on them.

Babu, in his bail petition, argued that the letter was neither written by him nor addressed to him, and that it did not contain any details about his alleged role in the conspiracy.

The activist’s lawyer Yug Mohit Chaudhry also argued that the National Investigation Agency had failed to point out any act that Babu committed or supported that would constitute an offence under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

“What is the terrorist act and where is the outcome?” Chaudhry asked. “A war has to happen, people have to die, how can I be prosecuted for a terrorist act when no one has died?”

However, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing the National Investigation Agency, said that the fact that nobody died did not mean that a terrorist act did not take place. He said that under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, an act that threatens or is likely to threaten the sovereignty of the country was also a punishable offence.

“Waiting for actual incident to take place would be dangerous,” Singh told the High Court. “This argument that ‘there is a bomb but it does not explode, so they should not be prosecuted’ is not right.”