The Bombay High Court on Friday denied anticipatory bail to activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde in connection with the Elgar Parishad case. While rejecting their bail pleas, the court extended interim protection from arrest, earlier granted to them, by four weeks to appeal before the Supreme Court.
A single-judge bench of Justice Prakash D Naik passed the orders on anticipatory bail applications of the accused activists booked for alleged maoist links.
The ruling comes nearly two months after the court reserved its judgment on December 18, 2019.
The bench also rejected interim applications moved by the Pune Police seeking appearance of accused persons in the court.
The Bombay High Court denied pre-arrest bail to activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde accused in Elgar Parishad case. Interim protection from arrest extended for four weeks. #ElgarParishad @ie_mumbai @IndianExpress
— Omkar Gokhale (@OmkarGokhale91) February 14, 2020
Navlakha had moved the HC on November 13, 2019 a day after a special court in Pune rejected his anticipatory bail plea. The Pune court, in its order, had said, “It appears from the documents that the banned organisation was operating in different ways to achieve its objects. Different members were entrusted with different activities, which was part of a larger conspiracy.”
The Pune court was referring to material put forth by the defence, including books written by Navlakha and documents including ‘Strategy and tactics (S & T) of the Indian Revolution’ and ‘Work in urban areas’, which were allegedly recovered from a pen drive of co-accused P Varavara Rao.
The HC on September 13, 2019 turned down Navlakha’s plea seeking to quash the First Information Report (FIR) filed against him by the Pune Police in the Elgad Parishad case.
Navlakha and Teltumdbe are charged under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and are accused of being part of the Elgaar Parishad event held in Pune on December 31, 2017.
The Pune Police, opposing the plea by Navlakha in the HC, claimed he was not only a member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) group but an active leader, who was in touch with terrorist and separatist organisations in Kashmir.
Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Aruna Pai had argued before the court that Navlakha was involved in raising funds, recruiting cadre and weapon deal for banned Maoist group and was part of a “larger conspiracy” to destabilise the government. The Pune Police sought custodial interrogation of Navlakha and submitted documents in support of their claims in a sealed cover.
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Lawyer Yug Chaudhry had argued that Navlakha was a civil rights activist and had undertaken fact-finding visits in tribal areas. It was further argued that these visits were for a purpose of documenting the impact of alleged unrest and violence on locals and it was misconstrued by the Pune Police.
The Pune Police opposed Anand Teltumbde’s pre-arrest bail claiming he was an active member of banned CPI (Maoist) group and was working for its alleged frontal organisations such as Anuradha Gandhi Memorial (AGM), Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) and Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL). It argued these organisations are creating an anti-government atmosphere in public.
However, senior advocate Mihir Desai rejected the state’s arguments and said that documents produced against Teltumbde were not corroborated. He also argued that if said organisations were frontal to the banned group, they should also have been banned by the state. Since they are still functioning, state’s claims should be ignored, said Desai.
The HC has given four weeks to Navlakha and Teltumbde to appeal before the Supreme Court.
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