The Supreme Court on Monday declined to quash the FIR against activist Anand Teltumbde in connection with the Elgaar Parishad event in Pune on December 31, 2017, saying that the “investigation is getting bigger and bigger”, and that it was not inclined to intervene at this stage.
However, the bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S K Kaul, which took up Teltumbde’s plea, granted him protection for four weeks so as to enable him to seek regular bail.
“Investigation is going on. It’s getting bigger and bigger…Many many more things are coming to light,” the court observed, turning down his counsel and senior advocate Kapil Sibal’s plea to grant him two weeks’ bail. Sibal said there was no evidence against his client. But the CJI said the court did not want to get into the evidence.
On December 21, 2018, the Bombay High Court had dismissed Teltumbde’s petition seeking the quashing of the FIR but had granted him interim protection from arrest for three weeks so that he could approach the apex court.
The High Court heard a number of petitions filed in the case by Teltumbde and his co-accused Gautam Navlakha, who was arrested in August 2018 by the Pune police for alleged links to Maoists and their alleged involvement in the organisation of Elgaar Parishad. Police claim that speeches made at the Elgaar Parishad were in part responsible for triggering caste clashes in and around Pune on January 1, 2018 —the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. According to Pune police, the Elgaar Parishad event was funded and supported by Maoists.
Rejecting Teltumbde’s plea, the HC had said, “We are of the opinion that this is not a case where there is no incriminating material against the Petitioner. It is also not possible to record a finding that implicating the Petitioner as one of accused is a malafide exercise of powers on the part of Investigating Agency. The offence is serious. The conspiracy is deep rooted and has extremely serious repercussions. The Investigating Agency must be allowed to have sufficient opportunity to collect evidence. The investigation is in progress.”
Explained: Probe into event leads to larger ‘conspiracies’
What began as an investigation by Pune Police into the suspected involvement of Maoist groups in the organisation of Elgaar Parishad has become a larger crackdown on Maoist activities and their alleged networks. The police claim that during their investigation into Elgaar Parishad, a programme in Pune on December 31, 2017, in which Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and JNU student Umar Khalid participated, they had stumbled upon evidence and material that led them to probe larger conspiracies being hatched by banned Maoist groups. The police have already presented to the court a purported letter they unearthed during the investigation that, they say, pointed to a ‘Rajiv Gandhi-like’ plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Other evidence presented in the court indicate the alleged involvement of some of the arrested activists in recruiting cadres for CPI-Maoist, and their alleged attempts to destabilise the central government, according to police claims.