Thursday, September 28, 2023

Bhima Koregaon violence: Dalit rights activist and scholar Anand Teltumbde granted bail

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The Dalit rights activist and scholar Anand Teltumbde who was detained in Taloja Central Prison since 2020 for his alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon violence of 2018 has been granted bail by the Bombay High court.

A bench comprising of Justice AS Gadkari and Justice Milind Jadhav in have the verdict today said that after listening to the matter,they have come up to the conclusion that bail should be granted.

The bench has observed that in Teltumbde case,only offence that can be made out is under Section 38 and 39 (relating to membership in terrorist organisation).

The court said that the maximum punishment in those offences was imprisonment for 10 years and Teltumbde had already been incarcerated for more than 2 years in prison. 

The Court had released him on bail.

The Court stayed its order for a week to enable the NIA to file appeal before the Supreme Court.

NIA in its case against Teltumbde said that he was one of the convenors of the December Elgar Parishad event. He is also alleged of making some provocative speeches leading to riots on January 1, 2018. 

NIA was represented by Advocate Sandesh Patil who argued that the speeches made at the event were allegedly backed by a banned terrorist outfit, the Communist Party of India (Maoist). 

NIA also showed some important excerpts from the chargesheets and presented material that the agency  had collected against the accused to show his alleged involvement in the event. 

As per the NIA report, Teltumbde was also secretly in touch with his brother, alleged Maoist leader Milind Teltumbde, who was killed in an encounter in Gadchiroli earlier this year.

Counsel for NIA said that Teltumbde was a regular to international conferences where he would allegedly further Maoist agenda.

Teltumbde moved High Court in September last year after the Special Court under the NIA Act had rejected his bail stating him to be member of banned outfit.

Teltumbde in his plea had asked for quashing the order of the Special Court under the National Investigation Agency act on the following grounds the a very elaborate chargesheet has been prepared by the NIA admittedly which runs into thousand page and about 200 witnesses; this would make the trial take very very long.

Ther plea said that object of bail is to secure attendance of accused at the trial, bail should not be withheld as a punishment.

The plea said that the special court had incorrectly held that he was part of banned organisation. 

Plea also made a note that only way an organisation could be declared “banned” was after the Central government notified the same or added it under the Schedule of the UAPA.

Teltumbde was represented by Senior Advocate Mihir Desai who pleaded that if bail is not granted, the minimum that should be done is house arrest instead of jail.

He pointed out that as per the chargesheets against Teltumbde no terror acts could be attributed to him and hence there was no bar to release him on bail under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). 

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