Updated: March 24, 2021 4:18:12 am
A SPECIAL court, while disallowing bail to Stan Swamy (83), arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, said his right to personal liberty and other grounds like his old age and sickness were outweighed by the “collective interest of the community”. Special Judge Dinesh E Kothalikar said sufficient prima facie evidence denotes that Swamy, a Jesuit priest and Jharkhand-based tribal rights activist, is a member of the banned organisation, CPI (Maoist).
“The material placed on record… prima facie denotes that the applicant (Swamy) was not only the member of banned organisation CPI (Maoist) but he was carrying out activities further in the objective of the organisation which is nothing but to overthrow the democracy of the nation,” the court said.
It referred to letters and documents submitted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), stating that they showed that Swamy and other members of the CPI (Maoist) had “hatched a conspiracy to create unrest in the entire country” to overpower the government. Swamy, who was arrested by the NIA in October last year, had filed for bail in November. The court rejected his plea on Monday but the detailed order was made available on Tuesday. The court said it was relying on 140 emails exchanged between Swamy and the co-accused. “Without making reference to each and every email, suffice it to say that there was exchange of emails between the applicant and the co-accused. This goes to suggest that the applicant was also in touch with the co-accused,” the court said, adding that it was an “additional link” to connect him with the others.
Swamy, while seeking bail, had argued that the investigating officer had “deviated” from the practice of taking hash value of the seized electronic devices “to fabricate evidence”. It was argued that the hash value, which uniquely identifies data, is necessary to rule out tampering or insertion of evidence to falsely implicate an accused. The NIA has claimed that Swamy was furthering the activities of the CPI (Maoist) through his “deep-rooted association” with other organisations like the Majdoor Sanghatan Samiti, Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC), calling them “frontal organisations” to the banned group.
Swamy had said his work challenging indiscriminate arrests of thousands of young Adivasis, labelled as “Naxals”, was the reason he was being implicated. He had also said he was not present at the Elgar Parishad event held in Pune and that two Hindutva leaders – Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote – were booked for the violence on Dalits that occurred on January 1, 2018. Other evidence put forth by special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty, which the court considered was the use of the word “Comrade” and “Lal Johar”, are “generally used” by members of the banned group.
It also considered that Swamy had attended a meeting in June 2019 in Kolkata, organised to protest the arrest of human rights activists in this case. It relied on a statement of a witness, who said Swamy had given a speech in English. Swamy’s lawyer had said the witness claimed that he could only speak in Hindi but had given a statement about the contents of Swamy’s speech and hence it could not be relied on.
“Considering this aspect and the tenor of the speeches given by the speakers, one can understand the speech given by other persons though it is not in the same language which is known to such persons,” the court said.
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