A Special UAPA Court in Pune today will hear a plea filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) seeking transfer of all court documents and seized objects in the Elgaar Parishad case to a special NIA court in Mumbai.
The probe agency, which moved its petition on January 29, told the court that it had filed a fresh FIR in the case. The plea stated that as part of the procedure, it had submitted the FIR on January 27 to the special NIA court in Mumbai, which adjudicates all NIA cases arising in the Western region.
On January 27, the NIA team had demanded the Pune police for the handover of the case files. Pune police however told the agency officials that they were still to get handover orders from the office of Director General of Police in Mumbai. While the NIA is empowered by law to take over any case in which the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) is invoked, the Maharashtra government had expressed its discontent on the Centre’s move to transfer the case to NIA, thus triggering a political row between both sides.
Defence lawyers had said earlier that it was not clear if the probe agency’s petition in the Pune court was a result of a delay in formally getting charge of the case from Pune police, or part of routine procedure. They added that it was possibly the first time that NIA was taking over a case at a stage when even a chargesheet had been filed. Usually, cases are handed over to the NIA at a much earlier stage.
Pune police have so far booked 23 persons and arrested nine among them for their alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoist group. The police further alleged that the Elgaar Parishad, a conference organised at Shaniwar Wada on December 31, 2017, ahead of the 200th commemoration of battle of Koregaon Bhima, was held as part of the strategy of and with the funds given by CPI-Maoist.
After receiving an application from the NIA on January 29, the special UAPA court presided over by Judge SR Navandar had sought the stay of the State and the Defence and kept the matter for hearing on Monday. For filing of the say, the copies of the NIA application had been sent to the prosecution and also directly to the nine arrested accused who are in Yerawada Central Prison. Along with the one chargesheet and one supplementary chargesheet, the documents and electronic data seized from the accused and the papers of proceedings of the case have been in the custody of the Pune court. The NIA application seeks transfer of these items to the special NIA Court in Mumbai.
The Indian Express has learned that the fresh FIR filed by the NIA has also skipped sections pertaining to waging war against the government of India and sedition which were present in the earlier FIR.
Recently, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar had sought an SIT probe into the case, after raising questions regarding the arrest of the activists. Following allegations made by Pawar, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, both NCP leaders, held ‘review’ meeting last week on January 23 with police officials handling the investigation. It was a day after the review meeting, that the Home Ministry transferred the probe to the NIA.
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