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Supreme Court confirms bail for Anand Teltumbde: A recap of the Elgar Parishad case, the accused

Sixteen accused including Teltumbde had been arrested in the Elgar Parishad case — nine individuals were arrested by the Pune Police in 2018, and seven were arrested by the NIA after it took over the investigation in 2020.

The Bombay High Court on November 18 granted bail to Anand Teltumbde, an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case. (Express Photo by Nirmal Harindran/File)

The Supreme Court on Friday (November 25) dismissed the NIA’s challenge to the Bombay High Court order giving bail to scholar-activist Anand Teltumbde in the Elgar Parishad case. The 73-year-old was released from Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai on Saturday (November 26).

Speaking to reporters outside the jail, Teltumbde said, “I am definitely happy. It has been 30 months that I have been in prison. The sad part, however, is that we had to spend time in jail after being booked in a fake case.”

Anand Teltumbde bail plea: What Supreme Court said

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud declined to interfere with the HC order of November 18. The bench, also comprising Justice Hima Kohli, dismissed the appeal with a two-line order: “The SLP is dismissed. However, the observations in the impugned judgment of the High Court shall not be treated as conclusive final findings in all proceedings.”

The HC bench comprising Justices A S Gadkari and Milind Jadhav had said prima facie “it cannot be concluded that Teltumbde has indulged in a terrorist act”.

According to a report by Live Law, on Friday, CJI Chandrachud asked counsel for NIA, “What is the specific role to bring UAPA sections into action? The IIT Madras event you alleged is for Dalit mobilisation. Is Dalit mobilisation preparatory act to proscribed activity?”

The bench, however, added that the HC’s observations will not be treated as conclusive final findings at the trial.

Status of other accused in Elgaar Parishad case

Sixteen accused including Teltumbde had been arrested in the Elgar Parishad case — nine individuals were arrested by the Pune Police in 2018, and seven were arrested by the NIA after it took over the investigation in 2020.

One of the accused, Father Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist, passed away in July 2021 while in judicial custody.

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Telugu poet and activist Varavara Rao was granted bail on medical grounds by the Supreme Court in August this year. Lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj was granted default bail in December last year. Teltumbde is the third accused in the case to be given bail.

On November 19, activist Gautam Navlakha was moved from Taloja Central Prison to house arrest in Navi Mumbai after the Supreme Court rejected the NIA’s appeal against the court’s earlier order allowing his house arrest.

The other accused, including activists Vernon Gonsalves, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, and Prof Shoma Sen, remain in jail.

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Background of the case

The case dates back to the Elgar Parishad event held in Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017. A day later, violent clashes broke out between Maratha and Dalit groups near Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra.

Police alleged that the violence was instigated by “inflammatory speeches” given at the Elgar event in Pune. However, Dalit groups and many others, including NCP chief Sharad Pawar, accused right-wing leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide of instigating the violence through hate speeches.

Arrests by Pune Police

The Pune Police started raiding the homes and offices of those who had attended the Elgar event and seized their electronic devices. Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, and Sudha Bharadwaj were arrested in 2018. Police accused them of being members of the banned CPI(Maoist), and of involvement in furthering its activities.

After NIA took over case

In December 2019, a month after the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government came to power in Maharashtra, the central government transferred the case to the NIA. By then, the Pune Police had filed two chargesheets against the nine accused.

In 2020, the NIA arrested Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Hany Babu, Jyoti Jagtap, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, and Stan Swamy. A third charge sheet was filed in the case in October 2020.

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In August 2021, the NIA submitted to the sessions court the draft charge against the accused. The draft charges include the sections under which the prosecuting agency proposes to charge the accused based on the evidence it has collected and submitted before the court. The accused face various sections, including under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

First published on: 25-11-2022 at 19:14 IST
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