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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Elgaar Parishad case: Maharashtra govt opposes transfer of records to NIA special court

Special Judge Navandar said he will pass an order on NIA's application in one week, on February 14.

Written by Chandan Haygunde | Pune |
Updated: February 7, 2020 2:39:44 pm
Nine rights activists and lawyers had been arrested by the Maharashtra police in 2018 for allegedly inciting people at a meeting of the Elgar Parishad in Pune on December 31, 2017. (File)

The state of Maharashtra has demanded the rejection of an application filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), seeking transfer of all court documents and seized objects in the Elgaar Parishad case to the NIA special court in Mumbai.

District government pleader Ujjwala Pawar told a special court in Pune that NIA’s application is “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 also said NIA has not given “legal and sufficient reasons for transferring the said proceedings to the special court NIA, Mumbai.”

Arguing before special judge S R Navandar, who has been hearing the Elgaar Parishad case investigated by Pune City Police, Pawar said the offence in the case was committed within the local jurisdiction of the Pune court. “The investigating authority after completion of investigation filed the chargesheet before this court and as such the matter is fixed for framing of the charges.”

Pawar further cited a Supreme Court judgment on a petition filed by Romila Thapar opposing the arrest of accused persons in Elgaar Parishad case in August last year. Pawar stated that the SC held “it is not a case of arrest because of mere dissenting views expressed or difference in the political ideology of the named accused, but concerning their link with the members of the banned organisation and its activities.”

Pawar further submitted there was ample evidence against all accused present before the court, as well as the absconding accused and accused Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde, whose application seeking anticipatory bail is pending before the Bombay High Court.

Pawar submitted that provisions of UAPA, 1967 provides definition of word court under Section 2 (a) as “Criminal Court having jurisdiction under the Code to try offences under this Act and includes special courts constituted under section 11 or section 22 of NIA Act 2008.”

“… Section 11 of Nia Act, 2008 provides powers of Central Government to constitute special court for trial of scheduled offence. Section 13 of NIA Act further provides for jurisdiction of special court… Section 22 (2) of the NIA Act empowers the state government to constitute one or more special court for trial of the offence under any or all the enactments specified in the scheduled offences… Therefore,, in the view of the provisions for appointing of a special court to conduct the scheduled offences, the government of Maharashtra has established special courts… Taking into consideration the establishment of special court in Pune, the application filed by NIA for transferring of records to NIA Court, Mumbai is required to be rejected,” Pawar submitted.

NIA’s counsel Namdev Taralgatti then put up his arguments seeking transfer of records to the NIA court in Mumbai.

Special Judge Navandar said he will pass an order on NIA’s application in one week, on February 14.

Defence lawyers Rohan Nahar, Siddharth Patil and Shahid Akhtar had demanded rejection of NIA’s application on Thursday. They had argued that the special court in Pune was not the jurisdiction to decide NIA’s application and the agency should have moved the HC.

Lawyer Surendra Gadling, who is also an arrested accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, had submitted that the HC and SC, under Section 406 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) are the appropriate courts to consider applications for transfer of cases outside a sessions division in Maharashtra and Goa.

Gadling told the court that while taking over the probe in a case lodged by state Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) in Nanded, where the ATS had submitted a chargesheet in this case before a Nanded court, NIA had adopted the procedure of approaching the HC for seeking transfer of sessions case.

Based on the Bombay HC order, Gadling had also argued that the NIA Act comes into the picture only when NIA starts investigation. He had argued in the present case, where investigation and case records are yet to be handed over by the Pune Police and taken over by NIA, the special court in Pune cannot entertain an application for transfer of case records and properties.

Meanwhile, NIA lawyer Friday produced a case dairy before the court.

The Elgaar Parishad case, probed by the Pune City Police for over a year, was transferred to the NIA last month. The NIA had then lodged a separate first information report (FIR) in this case in Mumbai on January 24. Agency officials communicated to the Pune Police on January 27 that they were taking over the probe. On January 29, Superintendent of Police of NIA-Mumbai, Vikram Khalate, had moved an application before the special court in Pune requesting for orders to send “all court records, seized articles from this court” to the NIA special court in Mumbai “in the interest of justice”.

Pune City Police has, so far, booked 23 persons in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case for their alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoist, under sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and UAPA. But NIA’s FIR has so far named 11 accused of these 23, including Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, lawyer Surendra Gadling, P Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferriera, Vernon Gonsalves, Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha.

Elgaar Parishad was an event 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 banned CPI-Maoist.

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