SC Dismisses SLP Filed by NIA Against Anand Teltumbde’s Bail Plea [Bhima Koregaon Case]

Anand Teltumbde Law Insider

Aastha Thakur

Published on: 25 November 2022 at 16:21 IST

The apex court was hearing the Special Leave Petition filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) contesting the bail granted by the Bombay High Court to Professor Anand Teltumbde in the Bhima Koregaon case.

The petition was heard by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli explicitly maintained that the findings of High Courts will not be conclusive findings at the trials.

The plea was filed by NIA against the bail granted by the HC division bench of Justices AS Gadkari and Milind Jadhav. The bench asserted that there is no evidence for the offence of terrorist activity against Teltumbde. 

The complaint against Teltumbde is that he conspired to overthrew the government and also propagate the ideology of banned CPI(Maoist).

During hearing the CJI DU Chandrachud also put the question before ASG Aishwarya Bhati regarding his specific role to bring UAPA sections into action.

The counsel appearing for NIA submitted that, “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,”

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Teltumbde told the court that none of the incriminating documents submitted to court were recovered from Teltumbde. The case of NIA is based on hearsay evidence, which is given in a statement recorded under Section 161 CrPC, which is inadmissible in evidence.

Courtroom Exchange

Bhati also referred to an undated letter by the Central Committee of CPIM, a proscribed organisation under the UAPA, which allegedly refers to Teltumbde as ‘Dear Comrade Anand’. The letter was written for ‘Comrade Teltumbde’ to enhance student participation in the programme commemorating 50 years of Naxalbari movement.

Another one recovered from co-accused Rona Wilson’s laptop mentioning about his visit to Paris for Human Rights Convention to be held on April 9 and 10, 2018 and lectures on Dalit issues in order to give traction to domestic chaos. Bhati informed the Court that most of these documents were encrypted and had PGP keys.

However, the Sibal strongly opposed this stating the expenses were borne by the institution itself and was mainly for academic work.

The agency alleged that Teltumbde travelled abroad to share banned literature through lectures.

The counsel Aishwarya Bhati contended that there is no need of active role for proving point under UAPA. The preparatory active role carried out for proscribed organisation also hold some weight.

On questions regarding his specific role, the Bhati responded that he is a professor and is free to give lectures. However, she added that since he has links with a banned organization and has even received funds, they cannot merely rely on the ‘front face’. Asserting that goes on backdoors is also important.

However, the Sibal contended that no recovered documents are directly connected to the Teltumbde.

“These have no relation to any provisions of the UAPA, and this is written by someone else, not me. The threshold under the Act is very high.”

Hence, agreeing with the findings of the High Court, the Supreme Court dismissed the plea of NIA.

Background of Case

The IIT professor & dalit scholar was arrested by NIA in connection with the alleged Maoist linkup in the Bhima Koregaon case. Earlier this month, the HC granted him bail, observing that prima facie there was no relevant evidence for the offence of terrorist activity against Teltumbde.

The court also noted that he was travelling for lectures, attending seminars at prestigious institutes like the London School of Economics, Harvard University, MIT, Michigan University and merely because his brother was a wanted CPI(Maoist) accused doesn’t implicate him in his alleged links to the banned organisation. The HC observed that;

“It is seen that Appellant is a man of intellectual prominence in the field of Dalit ideology / movement and merely because he is the elder brother of wanted accused Milind Teltumbde who had gone underground 30 years ago to espouse the cause of CPI(M) cannot be a sole ground to indict the Appellant and link him to the activities of CPI(M).”

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