The special National Investigation Agency court that rejected the bail petition of 83-year-old Jesuit priest and activist Stan Swamy said that prima facie he had conspired with members of a banned Maoist organisation to create unrest in India and to overthrow the government, PTI reported.
“Prima facie it can be gathered that the applicant along with other members of the banned organisation hatched a serious conspiracy to create unrest in the entire country and to overpower the government, politically and by using muscle power,” the judge said in his order.
He added that Swamy was not only a member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), but carried out activities to “further the objective” of the banned organisation to “overthrow the democracy of the nation”.
The order referred to around 140 emails between Swamy and other co-accused in the case, where the activist allegedly called them “comrades”. It claimed that Swamy had received Rs 8 lakh from one comrade, Mohan, allegedly for promoting Maoist activities.
Kothalikar refused to take into account a forensics report, which found that key evidence against a group of activists and intellectuals, who have been arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case, was planted using a malware on a laptop seized by the police.
The report by a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm had revealed in February that an attacker used malware to infiltrate a laptop belonging to activist Rona Wilson before his arrest and deposited at least 10 incriminating letters on his computer. The Pune Police used letters it found on the laptop as its primary evidence in the chargesheet they filed in the Bhima Koregaon case. Wilson has moved the Bombay High Court.
The judge, however, said raising questions on the authenticity of the evidence in the case would amount to interference with the court proceedings. “It is well known that present proceeding is sub judice,” he said. “Therefore, making any comments as to the evidence to be placed before the court would amount to interference in the administration of justice. In fact, such act is required to be deprecated.”
On Swamy suffering from the Parkinson’s disease and other ailments, the order referred to previous Supreme Court verdicts. It said given the seriousness of the allegations made against the activist, the “collective interest of the community would outweigh Swamy’s right to personal liberty”.
The judge added: “As such the old age and or alleged sickness of the applicant would not go in his favour.”
Kothalikar accepted the prosecution’s submissions, saying they had “substance”. “Upon cumulative consideration of all the aforesaid circumstances as well as law on the subject, I conclude that the applicant has failed to make out a case for grant of bail,” the order read.
Swamy, who was arrested on October 8, has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and terror-related offences of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly furthering the cause of Communist Party of India (Maoist) through various civil rights organisations he worked with. His application for bail had been pending since November.
In his bail plea, Swamy had alleged that he was being targeted by the central agency because of his writings and work related to caste and land struggles of the people of India and violation of democratic rights of the marginalised citizens of the country.
The bail plea also said that the tribal rights priest was not connected in any way to the organisation of the Elgar Parishad event held in Pune on December 31, 2017. Swamy’s advocate, Sharif Shaikh, had argued that the NIA had failed to establish Swamy’s connection with the conclave.
The NIA has, however, claimed that it has sufficient evidence to prima facie prove that Swamy was involved in the conspiracy and was directly involved in the Naxalite movement.
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.