A special court in Pune on Friday allowed an application filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) seeking an order to send “all court records, seized muddemal/articles” in the Elgaar Parishad case to the special NIA court in Mumbai.
Special Judge S R Navandar passed an order in this regard and directed the NIA to arrange for “transportation of the record and proceedings, along with muddemal (in sealed condition) to special NIA court, Mumbai”. Navandar also ordered that all the arrested accused in Elgaar Parishad case be produced before the special NIA Court, Mumbai, on or before February 28.
The case, which was probed by the Pune City Police for nearly one-and-a-half years, was transferred to the NIA last month. The NIA had lodged a separate first information report (FIR) in this case in Mumbai on January 24.
On January 29, Superintendent of Police of NIA-Mumbai, Vikram Khalate, moved an application before the special court in Pune requesting for orders to send all court records to the NIA special court in Mumbai.
District Government Pleader Ujjwala Pawar, representing the state of Maharashtra, had opposed the NIA’s application. Pawar told the court that the NIA application was “not legally tenable under the provision of law and particularly according to the provisions of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) 1967 and NIA Act 2008”. Pawar had also argued that the NIA has “not given legal and sufficient reasons for transferring the said proceedings to the special court NIA, Mumbai.”
Defence lawyers Rohan Nahar, Siddharth Patil, Shahid Akhtar and Surendra Gadling had also demanded rejection of the NIA application. They argued that the special court in Pune didn’t have the jurisdiction to decide on NIA’s application and the agency should have moved the High Court.
Meanwhile, the state government gave the nod to transfer the case to the NIA. A letter in this regard, dated February 12, 2020, was given by the state Home department to the Pune City Police.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar, who was the investigating officer in the case, submitted this letter before the Pune Special Court on Friday and stated that the government has given its consent for transferring the case to the NIA, so they have no objection against sending all records to the special NIA court.
Passing an order allowing the NIA’s application, Special Judge Navandar stated, “….When this court is left with no jurisdiction to try the case, it has to be made over to the court having jurisdiction i.e. Special NIA Court, Mumbai….. the above course of sending of record and proceedings to the special NIA Court Mumbai was adopted by this court on earlier occasion when investigation of a crime (registered with ATS, Pune) was transferred to NIA and it was not questioned by any authority….Therefore, it is expedient to send the record and proceedings of the case, along with seized property, to the special NIA Court, Mumbai without seeking direction from High Court…. The investigation officer of state agency has produced an order of state government dated February 12, 2020, thereby directing handing over of investigation of the case to NIA. Thus, it becomes clear that state investigating agency is handing over investigation of NIA and there remains no question of entrustment of investigation to the NIA, which was raised by accused.”
Elgaar Parishad, an evening conclave, was organised at Pune’s Shaniwar Wada on December 31, 2017, a day before the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. Police have alleged that Elgaar Parishad was organised as per plans and funds of the banned CPI-Maoist. Police also alleged that the probe in this case goes beyond Elgaar Parishad and reveals alleged activities of banned CPI-Maoist in different parts of country.
Police had booked 23 people in connection with the case, and arrested nine of them in 2018. The arrested accused, most of them prominent activists, have been lodged in Pune’s Yerawada prison since their arrest. Pune City Police had claimed that all of them have links with the CPI-Maoist. The NIA has, however, named only 11 of the 23 accused in its FIR.
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