August 3, 2021 9:27:24 pm
Opposing a plea by Elgaar Parishad accused Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawale challenging the transfer of the probe in the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Central government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs, has told the Bombay High Court that the move had nothing to do with the change of government in Maharashtra.
The transfer was made due to the “Pan-India” scope of the case, the government said, adding the “conspiracy was spread across many regions of the country.”
Gadling and Dhawale are among the accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, an FIR in which was registered by the Pune Police, which had in 2018 alleged a criminal conspiracy linked to the banned CPI (Maoist). The case was transferred from Pune Police to the NIA on January 24, 2020, weeks after the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government took office in the state.
The plea had come up for hearing before a division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice N J Jamadar on Tuesday.
The lawyer representing Gadling and Dhawale brought to the notice of the HC that the affidavit has been already filed through Dharmender Kumar, Under Secretary, Counter Terrorism and Counter Radicalisation (CTCR), Ministry of Home Affairs in September, 2020. However, the bench said that the said affidavit could not be found in its records and sought the copy of the same.
The petition, filed through advocate Satish B Talekar, which also named former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, claimed that Ekbote and Bhide received “state shelter” despite being named in FIRs linked to the assault on Dalits visiting the Bhima Koregaon memorial on January 1, 2018.
“The police administration under the control and supervision of then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis conveniently ignored the serious offences committed by Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote,” the petition alleged.
The affidavit filed by MHA stated, “Purpose of federalising some crimes by the Central government is not to usurp, but only to usefully supplement and add value to the law enforcement duties with local limitations hitherto with the sole preserve of the individual-state governments.”
The Centre added: “It was revealed that senior leaders of CPI (Maoist), which is a proscribed terrorist organization, were in contact with organizers of the Elgaar Parishad to spread the ideology of Maoism/Naxalism and encourage unlawful activities…The matter became abnormally grave and spread not only in Pune district but to many regions of India.”
The affidavit said, “A thorough investigation was necessary to unearth the larger pan-India conspiracy hatched by the accused and to identify persons who aided and abetted the unlawful activities of the arrested accused.”
The affidavit read, “It is stoutly denied that the transfer of the investigation was actuated by the change in government. Change in government has nothing to do with the transfer of investigation to NIA.”
Earlier the NIA had also filed an affidavit and told the HC that the petition was an attempt to “thwart” the investigation and that the “Naxal plague has caused destruction at many levels”.
Following a request made by the petitioner’s counsel, the bench posted further hearing in the plea to August 26.
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