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Pune court reserves order on transfer of Bhima-Koregaon case to NIA court

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A Maharashtra court on Friday reserved its order for February 14 on the issue of transferring the Bhima-Koregaon violence case to a National Investigation Agency (NIA) court.

The order was reserved by Pune’s Additional Sessions Judge SR Navandar on NIA’s plea.

In an application filed before the court, the state government opposed the agency’s plea to transfer all the court records, seized articles from the file of the sessions court to an NIA court in Mumbai.

“That present application is not legally tenable under the provisions of law and particularly according to the provisions of UAPA, 1967, and NIA Act, 2008,” it said.

The Maharashtra government said the offence was committed within the jurisdiction of the local court, a charge sheet filed and the matter has been fixed for framing of charges.

NIA has not given legal and sufficient reasons for transferring the proceedings, it submitted, noting that Section 22 (2) of the NIA Act empowered it to constitute special court/s for the trial of an offence under any or all the enactments.

The application said in view of this provision, the state government has established special courts.

Objecting to NIA’s plea, defence lawyers had earlier argued that the Pune court was not competent to hear the application, which should be filed in the Bombay High Court.

On January 29, NIA had moved the Pune sessions court for the transfer of the case.

The Centre had  last month transferred the probe from Pune Police to the NIA, a decision which the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in Maharashtra criticised.

NIA had filed a charge-sheet in a Mumbai Court on January 27.

Violence had broken out between Dalits and Marathas in the village of Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1, 2018, a day after an event in Pune called the Elgar Parishad was organised to commemorate the 200the anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle between the East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy.

One person died in violence during a bandh called by Dalit outfits the following day.

Pune Police named 11 of the 23 accused in the FIR, including Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, P Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha.

Except Teltumbde and Navlakha, the others were arrested by the police in June and August 2018 in connection with the violence. They were accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

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