A special court sent Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu, arrested on July 28 as an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, to further custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for three days till August 7, while refusing to grant seven-day custody as was sought. The court observed that the progress of the investigation “reveals various developments”.
The NIA had sought seven-day custody of the 54-year-old anti-caste activist. On Tuesday, the agency claimed that it recovered 1.26 lakh emails from his account that required scrutiny.
The agency also claimed that it recovered letters “voluminous” in nature from electronic articles seized from Babu, and that it required further custody of the professor to confront him. The NIA, through its special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty, also claimed that he was using various social media accounts for “communication with other co-accused”, suspects as well as members/sympathisers of banned outfit CPI (Maoist). “Disclosure and data extraction of said social media accounts are pending and the presence of accused is required for confrontation,” the NIA stated.
Pune Police raided Babu’s house in Noida in September 2019, following which the case was transferred to NIA in January. In a statement then, Babu said the Pune Police conducted a search for six hours and seized his books, laptop, phone, and hard disks. He also said he was made to change passwords of his social media and email accounts.
The NIA conducted a raid at Babu’s home again on Sunday, and seized an account ledger, a receipt book of the Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr G N Saibaba, which Babu was a part of, and other documents and electronic items.
His wife, Jenny Rowena, who teaches at Miranda House, said when she sought the hash values of seized electronic items to ensure there was no tampering, the officials refused. Lawyer Susan Abraham, representing Babu, opposed the NIA plea for further custody stating that he voluntarily came to Mumbai after being summoned by the agency and was questioned for five days. The court did not accept the contention.
In court on Tuesday, among the grounds for Babu’s custody, NIA stated that a person claimed to be linked to a banned outfit from Manipur, Kangleipak Communist Party, shared an interview with Ganapathy, a general secretary of CPI (Maoist), with Babu.
It also claimed that Babu, along with others, was involved in “highlighting the issue of arrest and subsequent conviction” of G N Saibaba, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for his links with CPI (Maoist).
The Committee for the Defence and Release of Saibaba, in a statement condemning the raid at Babu’s home, said the NIA’s claim was an “ulterior motive to criminalise the committee and its members through the principle of guilt by association”, while Rowena said it was a “legally formed committee and its activities were in the public domain”.