Activist Anand Teltumbde, lodged in Taloja jail in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case, moved the Bombay High Court on Friday against the July 12 order of the special National Investigation Agency court that allowed the extension of his detention for another 90 days, The Indian Express reported.
Teltumbde and activist Gautam Navlakha had surrendered before the NIA court on April 14, but the NIA failed to file a chargesheet within 90 days of his arrest. On July 19, the special NIA court had granted the agency an extension of 90 days to file the chargesheet.
The NIA had argued that the draft of the chargesheet was voluminous. It also cited the coronavirus outbreak and claimed that they were yet to finish the interrogation and examination of forensic evidence in the case due to the pandemic. Therefore, the agency said it required an extension of custody of Teltumbde and Navlakha as per Section 43 (D) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
Section 43 (D) states that if the prosecuting agency fails to complete its inquiry within the stipulated 90 days and its inquiry remains inconclusive, it can seek an extension for another 90 days.
In the application filed by Teltumbde on Friday, the activist, however, argued that his detention was extended without following norms under Section 43 (D) of the UAPA. Teltumbde said the special court had not paid attention to the information provided by the NIA in its application, which said that “sufficient evidence has been being collected” in the case.
The activist’s plea added that the NIA court had also not abided by an order by the Supreme Court, according to which, a person cannot be detained beyond 90 days if the investigating agency is unable to complete its probe or file chargesheet by then. Further, he said that since his custody would not be required for recording of statements of witnesses or getting forensic reports, the special court should not have extended his custody by 90 days. In view of this, Teltumbde sought from directions to the NIA court to release him on bail.
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On August 28, the Bombay High Court had rejected the bail petition of lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj, who is also among those arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. Bharadwaj is currently imprisoned at the Byculla Women’s prison in Mumbai. Her bail petition stated that she was at a great risk of contracting the coronavirus because of her age and underlying medical conditions.
On September 7, the National Investigation Agency arrested two members of the Kabir Kala Manch cultural group, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor, in connection with the case. A day later, Jyoti Jagtap, another member of the group, was also arrested.
Last month, the agency summoned Delhi University professor Hany Babu to Mumbai for questioning and then arrested him. Last week, the agency summoned academic Partho Sarathi Ray, scholar K Satyanarayana and journalist KV Kurmanath for questioning.
In all, the police have arrested 15 persons – nine were arrested by the Pune police and the remaining six by the NIA, which took over the investigations in January this year. Other activists arrested in the case are: Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves.
Violence broke out between Dalits and Marathas in the village of Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1, 2018. This came a day after an event in Pune called the Elgar Parishad was organised to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818, in which the Dalit Mahar soldiers fighting for the British Army defeated the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha empire. One person died in violence during a bandh called by Dalit outfits on January 2.