A special National Investigation Agency court pulled up authorities of Taloja prison and the Mumbai Central Jail for delaying reports related to activist Anand Teltumbde, who is an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, reported The Times of India.
The court made the remark after Teltumbde submitted that there had been no reply to a petition he submitted in August. Teltumbde had on August 28 approached the court with an application to get home-cooked food, and highlighted his health-related problems.
Following this, the court had instructed the Taloja Jail superintendent to submit a report and take him for medical tests. The prison officials were asked to submit a response by September 4, but the authorities have still not filed it.
“In [a] number of matters, this court has observed that whenever a report is called for either from the Superintendent of Taloja, Central Prison or Mumbai Central Prison they do not bother to submit timely reports, resultantly it compels the court to keep such application pending for want of reports from the prison authorities,” the court said, according to Hindustan Times. “Hence the Superintendent of Taloja Central Prison and Mumbai Central Prison are directed to submit the reports on fixed dates, else this court will be constrained to initiate action for not following the orders of the court.”
The court has asked the police commissioner concerned for information and also instructed them to take the required action. The court asked the prison officials to submit a report during the next hearing in December.
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 charge sheet 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.
The central agency filed a chargesheet in October, in which it alleged that Teltumbde attended international conferences “under the guise of… academic visits abroad” and brought back Maoist literature and videos. They agency also claimed that those literature and videos were shown to CPI (Maoist) members.
Several activists and academics have been accused of making inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad conclave held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the authorities claim triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon war memorial the next day. Eight people who have been named in the NIA chargesheet are former IIT professor Teltumbde, his brother Milind Teltumbde, activist-journalist Gautam Navlakha, Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu, three members of the cultural group Kabir Kala Manch and Jesuit priest and human rights activist Stan Swamy. Of them, Milind Teltumbde has been named as an absconding accused and top operative of CPI (Maoist) in the charge sheet.