Priest and activist Stan Swamy has moved the Bombay High Court challenging the rejection of his bail pleas in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case by a special National Investigation Court, reported Live Law on Tuesday.

Swamy on Monday filed an appeal through his advocate Mihir Joshi against two orders of the NIA court. The first is in connection with the rejection of Swamy’s emergency bail application on health grounds in October last year. The second order is from March 21 when his plea based on merits was denied.

In the appeal, the 84-year-old has cited his age and acute Parkinson’s disease for relief, besides contending that no case was made out against him.

Swamy was arrested on October 8 by the central agency from Ranchi, Jharkhand, and brought to Mumbai the next day. The NIA has alleged that he is a member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and was involved in a conspiracy to instigate caste violence in the Bhima Koregaon village near Pune in 2018.

While rejecting his bail plea on March 21, special judge DE Kothlikar had said: “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 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”.

Kothalikar had also 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.

In its October application, Swamy’s advocate had said that the Jesuit priest had undergone surgery and hospitalisation right before his arrest and had fallen down in jail. Shaikh made the bail appeal on humanitarian grounds, and as per the recommendations of the high-powered committee appointed on orders of the Supreme Court to decongest jails.

The case

Swamy 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.

In his March 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.