The defence lawyer for Elgaar Parishad case accused Varavara Rao on Wednesday told a Pune court that no ‘damaged hard disk’ had been seized from the Telugu poet-activist at the time of searches at his premises in 2018.
The claim was made by the defence lawyer while questioning the prosecution, which had said that it was taking the help of forensic experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to retrieve data from a damaged hard disk, purportedly recovered from Rao last year. Rao is among the 23 people booked in the Elgaar Parishad case by the Pune City Police.
The 79-year-old poet-activist and eight other accused, arrested in connection with the case, have been lodged in Yerwada Jail in Pune since 2018. In August that year, police had conducted searches at four premises linked to Rao and four separate search and seizure panchnamas were prepared.
Rao’s defence lawyer Rohan Nahar submitted an application in the court of Special UAPA Judge S R Navandar on Wednesday. “In the chargesheet, the police have annexed four panchnamas of so-called evidence from premises allegedly belonging to Rao and persons associated with him. No mention of seizure of any damaged hard disk is found in panchnamas. Recently the undersigned (Nahar) was questioned by some reporters, asking his opinion on the stand taken by state police, stating referral of an inaccessible damaged hard disk seized from Rao to FBI,” the application stated.
“In this backdrop, it is necessary to seek a formal stand from the concerned state police on these news reports. It is therefore prayed that the state be directed to submit a detailed report clarifying this controversy,” it stated.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Nahar said, “While the panchnamas do have mention of seized hard disks, there is no mention of a damaged hard disk. It is pertinent to ask when, how, where and by whom was the hard disk damaged. The prosecution needs to answer this question.”
Appoint cyber forensic expert in 10 days: Court
Special UAPA Judge S R Navandar on Wednesday granted 10 more days to the defence lawyers to appoint a cyber forensic expert for the verification of copies of the “seized data” given to the accused. Judge Navandar said that after that, the court will proceed towards framing of charges.
Recently, after the accused were given copies of the “seized data”, they had raised doubts about it. The court had then allowed defence lawyers to appoint an outside expert. On Wednesday, defence lawyers sought more time from the court and were granted 10 more days. The court told them that in either case, whether they appoint the expert or not, charges will be framed after the given time lapses. The court has set the next date of hearing on December 13.
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