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Friday, September 17, 2021

Elgar Parishad case: NIA, Pune Police oppose default bail plea by eight accused, HC reserves verdict

The NIA and state government said that the September 2019 order of the Pune Sessions Court that rejected the default bail pleas was justified and should not be quashed and set aside.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
September 2, 2021 1:48:38 am
Elgaar Parishad Case, Varavara RaoPoet-activist Varavara Rao. (File)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Pune Police on Wednesday opposed the default bail pleas filed by eight accused in the Elgar Parishad case and challenged its maintainability.

The NIA and state government said that the September 2019 order of the Pune Sessions Court that rejected the default bail pleas was justified and should not be quashed and set aside.

A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice N J Jamadar was hearing default bail plea by eight accused, including Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling and Varavara Rao.

The accused had said that persons booked for scheduled offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) had to be produced before a special NIA court and that the sessions judge had no power to take cognisance of their pleas.

However, same was not done despite then state government having constituted a special court in Pune as per NIA Act, they said.

Advocate Sudeep Pasbola for the accused submitted that as the orders of remand authorising custody were “illegally” passed by the sessions judge and the same could not be sustained, they may be released on default bail.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni representing the state government and Pune Police submitted that the chargesheet was filed within the extended time period rightly granted by the Pune sessions court and therefore accused were not entitled for default bail.

He said that the Special NIA court is to hear matters pertaining to trial stage; therefore, the sessions court was competent to take cognisance of the chargesheet during “pre-trial stage.” Hence, the plea be dismissed as same was not maintainable, he said.

The NIA, which took over the probe from Pune Police last January, had earlier filed an affidavit in reply opposing the plea and
said that merely because a court is not empowered by law to take cognisance and yet does so in good faith does not mean that the proceedings should be set aside on that ground alone.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for NIA supplemented arguments made by the Pune Police and said that the cognisance of chargesheet taken by sessions court has no relevance for default bail plea.

After concluding the hearing, the Court reserved its order in the plea, which it will pass in due course.

The bench on August 4 had also reserved for order another default bail plea by co-accused Sudha Bharadwaj raising similar grounds and the same is pending for pronouncement.

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