The Bombay High Court on Monday reserved its order on the bail application filed by activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves, in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case for their alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoist. The activists were arrested by Pune Police on August 28, 2018.
In October last year, a special court in Pune had rejected the bail application of Bharadwaj, following which, she moved the Bombay High Court. Advocate Yug Chaudhry had argued before Justice Sarang Kotwal that police arrested her on the basis of documents seized from the hard disk of other accused. “Not a single document relied by police was from any of her electronic device,” Chaudhry told the court.
Chaudhry told the court that there was no incriminating statement by any of the witnesses in the chargesheet, except that by a police officer who conducted the house search of Bharadwaj. He added that the documents found by the police, on the basis of which she was arrested, were not generated from her computer.
Senior counsel Mihir Desai, appearing for Gonsalves, had argued that the prosecution relied on two letters recovered from the laptops of accused activist Rona Wilson and advocate Surendra Gadling. Out of the two letters, one letter is between Gadling and Comrade Prakash and another one is between Rona and Comrade Prakash. Desai added that in both the letters, Gonsalves is mentioned twice, but neither of them were written by him or addressed to him.
In the bail application of Ferreira, advocate Sudeep Pasbola had told the court that there was no incriminating evidence against him. He argued that Ferreira was arrested only because of his acquaintance with co-accused Surendra Gadling, and for being a member of the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL).
Pasbola told the court that Ferreira was in jail from 2007 to 2012 in 12 cases against him. He was acquitted in all the 12 cases and was released in 2012 from Nagpur Central Jail. During these years, Gadling, an advocate, was representing Ferreira and, therefore, he got acquainted with Gadling, Pasbola told court.
Additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai opposed the bail application of the three activists stating that they are active members of frontal groups funded by the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). Pai said that the investigation is still underway and releasing them on bail would jeopardise the probe.