Updated: May 4, 2021 7:50:18 pm
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Maharashtra government to respond, through the Pune Police, to a writ petition by Elgaar Parishad accused Rona Wilson, seeking quashing of the FIR and chargesheet against him.
The Elgaar Parishad case was being investigated by the Pune Police before it was transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Wilson, in support of his petition, had cited the report of a US-based digital consultant that says the “incriminating evidence” found by investigators in his laptop were ‘planted.’
The state government was also asked to respond to the plea by co-accused Shoma Sen, challenging her prosecution under the UAPA filed on similar grounds.
Last week, the NIA opposed the plea filed by Wilson and said that the allegations against the central probe agency, of “planting documents in his laptop”, were “uncalled for”.
The central agency also said the report of the US-based consultancy was not part of the chargesheet filed against Wilson, and therefore, it can only be raised during trial and cannot be relied upon by the petitioner while submitting a petition before the High Court. A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale was hearing Wilson and Sen’s pleas on Tuesday.
Senior Counsel Indira Jaising, representing Wilson, submitted that her client had challenged the sanction granted under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against him by the state government in 2018, and that the case was transferred to NIA only in January 2020.
She said that the state government, through the then investigating officer, was required to respond to allegations of tampering with the petitioner’s computer.
“The state government has to speak for itself unless NIA says it will defend the state. There are serious allegations of tampering. The then investigating officer should also file an affidavit. He has suppressed information from the sanctioning authority,” Jaising argued. “This is the first time the court will be dealing with the concept of ‘secured evidence.’ We may need the assistance of technical experts,” she added.
Senior Counsel Anand Grover, representing co-accused Sen, adopted Jaising’s arguments and also made a similar request, seeking the state’s response.
Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare sought four weeks to respond to the plea, which the court accepted and posted the matter next for June 16.
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