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Thursday, May 13, 2021

NIA to court: Report of digital consultant submitted by Teltumbde not authenticated

The report was submitted by Teltumbde's lawyers last month to the court seeking permission to rely on it at the time of his bail application.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
Updated: April 9, 2021 10:18:30 pm
Anand Teltumbde (File)

The NIA has said that the special court hearing the Elgar Parishad case should not rely on the report of a US-based digital consultant submitted by accused Anand Teltumbde during his bail hearing as it is not authenticated. The report prepared by Arsenal Consulting had said that incriminating evidence claimed to have been found on the electronic device of his co-accused Rona Wilson was planted.

The report was submitted by Teltumbde’s lawyers last month to the court seeking permission to rely on it at the time of his bail application.

Special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty said that the NIA has opposed the plea by former IIT professor Teltumbde stating that the report cannot be considered by the court as it is not authenticated, the reliability of its source is not known. Shetty also said that the application was opposed stating that at this stage, only those documents relied on by the prosecution and part of its chargesheet can be considered by the court.

The NIA also said that since the report appears to be addressed to the special court, the defence lawyers should clarify how they had received it. On Thursday, Special Judge Dinesh E Kothalikar asked Teltumbde’s lawyers to clarify on this point. The court said the perusal of the report submitted to it showed that it appears to have been addressed to the court. “(Court) Record reveals that at no point of time, the agency namely Arsenal Consulting was called upon by this court to submit the report,” the court said.

While the report was first cited by Wilson in a petition he filed before the Bombay High Court, the plea has not been heard so far. Wilson has referred to the forensic report in the petition which states that his computer was “infected with a malware”, allegedly planted through an email on June 13, 2016, two years before his arrest on June 6, 2018. The report says “incriminating” letters found in Wilson’s laptop by the investigators were introduced through malware planted by a hacker.

Wilson has sought an SIT to probe the alleged planting of documents and sought quashing of the sanction granted by the government to prosecute him and others under the UAPA as well as chargesheets filed against them. Wilson had said that he through his counsel had approached the American Bar Association to help conduct an independent forensic analysis of the cloned copy of the electronic devices seized from him.

Among the evidence cited by the NIA against Wilson, Teltumbde and other accused arrested in the case are letters and documents found on electronic devices. The accused claim that the investigators had not taken hash value of the devices at their time of their seizure, which would have ruled out tampering or insertion of evidence.

The NIA in its chargesheet as well as in opposing bail applications of accused — including that of tribal rights activist 83-year old Stan Swamy, whose bail plea was rejected last month — has relied on the electronic evidence alleging that it shows links between the accused and their conspiracy against the government.

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