New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against the bail granted to scholar-activist Anand Teltumbde in the Elgar Parishad case.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli said it would not interfere with the Bombay high court order granting bail to Teltumbde.
The high court on November 18 had granted bail to Teltumbde, noting that prima facie the only case made out against him relates to alleged association with a terror group and support given to it, for which the maximum punishment is 10 years in jail.
The high court, however, had stayed its bail order for a week so that the NIA, the probe agency in the case, could approach the Supreme Court.
According to LiveLaw, the top court added that the high court’s observations regarding the merits of the case will not be treated as conclusive final findings during trial.
During the hearing on Friday, CJI Chandrachud asked what role is attributable to Teltumbde. “What is the specific role to bring UAPA sections into action? The IIT Madras event you alleged is for Dalit mobilisation. Is Dalit mobilisation preparatory act to proscribed activity?” the CJI asked ASG Aishwarya Bhati, who was appearing for the NIA, according to LiveLaw.
“In this matter there are charges under as many as 8 Sections of UAPA…The high court errs in this that it says that the material that the prosecution has shown does not inspire confidence qua Section 15, 18 and 20,” ASG Bhati submitted. She cited documents which reveal Teltumbde’s alleged “deep involvement” with the banned CPI (Maoist).
However, Teltumbde’s lawyer Kapil Sibal told the court that none of these documents were recovered from Teltumbde. The emails purportedly sent by Teltubmde were allegedly recovered from the computer of co-accused Rona Wilson, who was the target of a cyberattack in which documents were planted on his laptop.
According to LiveLaw, Sibal also said that Teltumbde was estranged from his brother Milind Teltumbde – a Maoist leader who was killed in an encounter with security forces last year – in response to the prosecution’s claim that Milind was “inspired” by Anand.
“I have not met him for last 30 years”, Sibal said. The NIA’s case linking Milind to Anand is based on a hearsay evidence, which is given in a statement recorded under Section 161 CrPC, which is inadmissible in evidence,” Sibal said.
Teltumbde, 73, is the third accused of the total 16 arrested in the Elgar Parishad case to be released on bail. Poet Varavara Rao is currently out on bail on health grounds while lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj is out on default bail. However, Teltumbde is the first to get bail on the grounds of the merits of the case.
Gautam Navlakha was shifted to house arrest. One of the accused, Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, died while in custody after contracting COVID-19.
(With PTI inputs)