A Pune court on Saturday ruled that the arrest of Anand Teltumbde, a professor of Goa Institute of Management, by city police earlier in the day was illegal. The court upheld the defence plea that the arrest of Teltumbde from Mumbai airport was a violation of the Supreme Court order of January 14 which had granted him protection from arrest for four weeks. The professor has now been released.
“What has happened (arrest by Pune Police) is highly embarrassing for a person of international stature like me. I claim that there are very few people with a profile like me,” Teltumbde said after being released.
Anand Teltumbde has been released by the court after Maharashtra police arrested him in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case. (Express video by Arul Horizon)
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Defence lawyer Rohan Nahar argued before the court that the Pune police’s action was in contempt of the apex court order. “The entire action taken by Pune Police is illegal and contemptuous. A plain reading of the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court will denote that the protection offered to the said accused (Teltumbde) is in force till February 11,” the lawyer said in his plea before the court.
Prosecution lawyer Ujjwala Pawar argued that the four-week protection from arrest granted by the top court was to enable him to seek remedy from the local court. That protection “extinguished” the day Teltumbde had moved the Pune court seeking anticipatory bail, she argued. The court rejected the argument.
Teltumbde was arrested a day after the same Pune court rejected his application for anticipatory bail. He is wanted by the Pune Police in connection with the Elgaar Parishad, an event organised in Pune in December 2017. He was brought to Pune and produced in the court of UAPA special judge Kishore D Vadane at around 3 pm. The court order for his release came around 4.30 pm.
Teltumbde was one of the seven prominent activists whose houses were raided in a surprise multi-city search operation carried out by police on August 28 last year. Four of them – Sudha Bhardwaj, P Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Pareira – are already in police custody, having been arrested last year. Delhi-based Gautam Navlakha, however, managed to obtain court orders protecting him for arrest several times during this time. The latest order protecting him from arrest is valid till February 18. Pune Police have not made any effort to arrest the seventh person, Ranchi-based Stan Swamy, till now.
The police have been investigating the charges of naxal involvement in Elgaar Parishad, an event which was held a day before the 200th anniversary of battle of Bhima Koregaon, during which violent clashes had erupted across the city. Police claim that the speeches made during Elgaar Parishad were in part responsible for triggering the violence the following day.
While investigating the alleged naxal involvement of the name accused, Pune Police claimed to have stumbled upon evidence that uncovered larger conspiracies and activities of banned group CPI-Maoist. Police claim that the searches against the activists, and their later arrests, were based on such evidence that allegedly showed these activists’ involvement in the activities of CPI-Maoist.
In a similar operation in June last year, police had arrested another five activists and lawyers in the same case. Those five are also in police custody now.
Teltumbde had moved the Supreme Court seeking the quashing of FIR filed by Pune Police against him. The court had, on January 14, declined his plea, but granted him four weeks’ time to seek bail from the trial court. Teltumbde had then applied for anticipatory bail in the city court in Pune on January 18.