Two retired judges, who were among the “organisers” of Elgaar Parishad held at Shaniwarwada in December 2017, have slammed the move by Union Ministry of Home Affairs to hand over the probe to National Investigation Agency (NIA). Prakash Ambedkar, who heads Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, has also questioned the Centre’s motive behind roping in NIA and sought to know from former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as to why the probe was not handed over to NIA during his tenure.
“The Centre has taken the decision to hand over the Elgaar Parishad probe to NIA out of fear that the truth will be exposed. And the central government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not want the truth to come out as it will expose all its false claims during probe,” said retired Bombay High Court judge B G Kolse-Patil, one of the “organisers” of Elgaar Parishad.
Kolse-Patil said when the case was investigated by Maharashtra police, a BJP government was in charge in Maharashtra. “If its own government in the state probed the case, then why is the need forthe central government to take over the case and hand it over to NIA? It is clear the Centre has initiated the move to save its skin and hide its wrongdoings from the nation,” he said.
“Our purpose behind organising Elgaar Parishad was to send out a message of secularism among youths and highlight the attempts by the central government to divert the nation’s attention from the economic slump,” said the retired judge. Kolse-Patil said Elgaar Parishad sought to draw the nation’s attention on how the government was trying to deflect attention from itseconomic failure to issues like “love-jihad”, Article 370 and Hindu-Muslim ties.
Justice (retd) P B Sawant of the Supreme Court said, “Everyone knows the Centre’s action is improper…but I will not comment on it now. Will comment later in detail.”
Questioning the Centre’s move to bring in NIA, Ambedkar said, “If there was a national issue involved in the Elgaar Parishad case, why did the then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis not hand over the case to NIA? Why now? Fadnavis and BJP should issue a clarification…”
“If there is a national angle or national security, NIA can step in. But this matter has already reached Supreme Court..,” he said.
Asking Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to act decisively, Ambedkar said, “The taking away of the case by the Centre from Maharashtra shows its lack of confidence in Maharashtra chief minister. Thackeray should ask the central government as to why the case was taken away from the state government? He should ask as to where the state police has gone wrong and why should NIA be brought in? If he does not raise the issues, the Centre will take him for granted and will act in this manner in future as well.”
Welcoming NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s statements in the case, Ambedkar said, “Retired officials have already in the past said the case is a total fraud… Sharad Pawar too has been exposing this and we welcome his initiative in the matter.”
Stating that he was worried about those who were arrested and are still in jail, Ambedkar said, “I am most worried about those who are not connected to Elgaar Parishad and are still rotting in jail. Our Constitution says no one can be kept in jail without a judgment. If investigating agencies are delaying their investigation, why individual freedom is being curtailed? We hope the court will give free and fair judgment in the matter.”
Former Maharashtra Advocate General Shrihari Aney said, “… Just when the new government has decided to initiate a fresh probe, the Centre has decided to take it over. I find there is some ‘imbalance’ in this.”
Aney said, “Whether the case is probed by state police or central police, what matters from people’s perspective is that it should be taken to its logical conclusion as early as possible. I think the current confusion as to who should investigate has more to do with politics than actual implementation of the law.”
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