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Thursday, December 09, 2021

Elgaar Parishad case: NIA opposes plea seeking probe into ‘restrictions’ on letters, says only objectionable content withheld

A plea by the wives of Anand Teltumbde and Vernon Gonsalves, alleges that letters from their respective spouses were being either withheld or posted belatedly by jail authorities and that no response was received on letters written by them to their spouses.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: October 22, 2021 9:53:26 pm
The NIA, through its Mumbai branch Additional SP Anil Kumar Nair, submitted an affidavit in reply to the plea by Rama Anand Teltumbde and Susan Abraham Gonsalves.

Arguing that Anand Teltumbde was writing “objectionable content” in his letters which were turned into a magazine article, compelling the jail authorities to withhold some of them, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) opposed and sought dismissal of the plea by the wife of the Elgaar Parishad case accused, lodged in Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai, seeking an inquiry into alleged restrictions on two activists from writing letters to their spouses and lawyers.

The NIA said prisoners can send and receive letters to their family members, subject to scrutiny of content of the letters.

The NIA, through its Mumbai branch Additional Superintendent of Police Anil Kumar Nair, gave an affidavit in reply to Teltumbde’s plea, which was listed before a division bench of Justice Nitin M Jamdar and Justice Sarang V Kotwal, on Friday. The court has been hearing a plea by Rama Anand Teltumbde, along with Susan Abraham Gonsalves, wife of co-accused Vernon Gonsalves, alleging that letters from their respective spouses were being either withheld or posted belatedly by jail authorities and that no response was received on letters written by them to their spouses.

Stating that such restrictions were against the rights of the prisoners, the plea said the alleged act by the jail authority was “deliberate and malicious”.

During the previous hearing, advocate Sandesh Patil for the NIA opposed the plea and said that there is no restraint on sending letters by the accused persons to the family members. Patil said it was found that “objectionable material” was being written in the letters, which were being compiled into articles. The court had asked NIA to file an affidavit in reply contesting the plea.

The NIA affidavit said that the plea was not maintainable as it was not filed by the accused himself and that “rights of the present petitioner” were not violated. The Central agency added that the contention that the communication and letters were completely stopped is “untrue and misleading” and that prisoners could send and receive letters to family members, subject to their scrutiny.

“As per Maharashtra Prisoners Rules, the rights of undertrial prisoners are not unfettered and are subject to restrictions,” NIA said and added that it was brought to the notice of jail authorities that the letter written by accused contained “incriminating material” and that the same was “hampering the trial.”

The NIA further claimed that Anand Teltumbde was writing letters to a “third person” called “Mr Riyaz,” and that it contained “scandalous allegation” regarding hatching of conspiracy in connection with Elgaar Parishad. As per the agency, the said letters also led to an article making allegations regarding planting of letters in co-accused Rona Wilson’s computer.

“The petitioner wants the husband of the petitioner to pass off prohibited material in the nature of the letter. One of the other co-accused had written an article titled ‘Economic goals cannot Disavow Constitutional Vision,’ such contents of letters were then published by a magazine popularly known as ‘Caravan’. In spite of repeated requests, the petitioner has indulged in such restricted activities mentioned in Prison Rules. Section 17 (10) of Prison Rules provides enough power to the Superintendent of the Jail to withhold the incoming and outgoing of letters with objectionable, cryptic or suspicious contents,” the affidavit read.

It added, “Only letters with such objectionable, cryptic or suspicious contents are withheld and not all the communications made by the petitioner. It is further pertinent to note that letter communication with the family members and the advocate is also allowed and the petitioner is writing letters to the advocate and his family members. Hence, the present petition be dismissed with cost.”

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