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Bhima Koregaon: SC dismisses NIA appeal against Teltumbde’s bail

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the National Investigation Agency (NIA)’s plea against the bail granted to scholar-activist Anand Teltumbde in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, had taken note of the submissions by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the stay on the operation on the high court’s bail order is for a week only and the matter needed urgent hearing.

The solicitor general, at the outset, said the NIA has filed the appeal and the plea has been numbered and may be listed for an urgent hearing.

“Let us hear this at 12.45 pm (today itself),” said the bench which also comprised justices Hima Kohli and J B Pardiwala to which the law officer said, “My colleague, who is not present today, will argue. Please hear it (appeal) on Thursday.”

“We will hear it on Friday,” the CJI had then said.

Lawyer Aparna Bhat, appearing for Teltumbde, said she was appearing on caveat and she be given the copy of the NIA’s plea.

The SG said the copy will be provided to the counsel for the accused. The Bombay High Court had granted bail to Teltumbde last Friday in the case, noting there was no evidence to show that he was an active member of the banned CPI (Maoist) or had indulged in any terrorist act.

Teltumbde, 73, is the third accused of the total 16 arrested in the case to be released on bail. Poet Varavara Rao is currently out on bail on health grounds, and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj is out on regular bail.

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. Teltumbde will not be able to walk out of jail till then.

The only case made out against Teltumbde related 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 had said.

The high court had also noted that Teltumbde had already spent more than two years in jail.

After perusing the documents submitted by the NIA, the high court had said that prima facie (on the face of it) it cannot be presumed that Teltumbde is actively involved in the work of the CPI(Maoist) or is an active member of the group.

There was no material to show that Teltumbde was directly involved with the activities of CPI (Maoist), it had added.

Teltumbde is lodged at the Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai since his arrest in the case in April 2020.

The high court had granted bail to him on a surety of Rs 1 lakh.

Teltumbde had moved the high court last year after a special court refused to grant him bail.

He had claimed that he was never present at the December 31, 2017 Elgar Parishad event held in Pune city, nor made any provocative speeches.

The prosecution’s case was that provocative and inflammatory speeches were made at the event, allegedly backed by banned CPI (Maoist), which later led to violence at Koregaon Bhima village near Pune.

The accused in the case have been charged for waging a war against the nation, being active members of the CPI (Maoist), criminal conspiracy and indulging in acts with an intent to strike terror in the minds of people using explosive substances.

The trial court is yet to frame charges in the case, only after which trial would commence.