After the bail pleas were rejected, the defence lawyers sought a week’s stay on implementation of the order so that they could file an appeal in the High Court, but the judge did not grant a stay.

Activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves Taken Into Custody After Pune Court Rejects Bail Plea
Social activist-lawyer Arun Ferreira brought back to his residence and placed under house arrest, in Thane on Thursday, August 30, 2018. (Image: PTI)

House Arrest Ends, Two Back In Cop Custody

Pune:

The Pune police on Friday evening took activists Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves back into their custody after a special court rejected their bail applications, along with that of activist Sudha Bharadwaj, in the Elgar Parishad case.

Investigating officer ACP Shivaji Pawar told TOI, “We have taken Ferreira and Gonsalves into our custody and have sent a team to Bharadwaj’s residence in Faridabad to bring her to Pune. Ferreira and Gonsalves will be produced before court on Saturday.”

On September 28, the Supreme Court had extended the house arrest of the activists by four weeks, which ended on Friday. Police action came after the Pune court rejected their bail pleas. It also rejected a plea by Ferreira and Gonsalves for an extension of their house arrest by a week. Additional sessions judge K D Vadane said, “At this stage, from the material collected by the probe officer, prima facie it reveals the involvement of the applicants/accused.” He dismissed the defence argument that police action was based on false and fabricated material with no evidentiary value.

Arun Ferreira (C) was arrested from his Thane home on Friday

HC seeks material against activists

The Bombay HC has asked Pune police to place before it the case diary and other files related to the FIR against activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde in the Elgar Parishad case. Also, it extended its order asking police not to take any coercive steps against the duo till November 1. P 6

Court relies on ‘incriminating’ letters

The judge said: “Whether impugned (under challenge) material is false, bogus and fabricated is a matter of evidence (to be decided during the trial).

“The investigation is at a very crucial stage. Therefore, in my view, the present applicants/accused are not entitled to be released on bail.”

The court relied extensively on “incriminating” letters recovered from the electronic devices of the activists as well as a couple of email intercepts. It said, “The material collected by the investigating officer cumulatively shows the alleged act of the accused travels beyond the gravity of mere disturbance of public order…(It) may at times transcend the frontiers of the locality and include such anti-national activities which throw a challenge to the integrity-…sovereignty of the country.”

The court dismissed the defence argument that since Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote had been granted bail, the three activists should get bail on parity. The defence had said that the FIRs registered with the Pimpri police against Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide and that in relation to the Elgar Parishad were in the nature of cross FIRs. The court, however, said the two FIRs were distinct in nature and the involvement of the activists was disclosed in the police investigations. It also dismissed arguments about illegality and violation of rights in the arrest procedure, saying, “The investigating officer has not committed any error. Moreover, the arrest panchanama shows that intimation to relatives and friends of the accused…was immediately given.”

Later, rejecting the plea by Ferreira and Gonsalves for a week-long extension of their house arrest, the judge told their lawyers Siddharth Patil and Rahul Deshmukh, “The Supreme Court invoked its inherent powers for directing the house arrests, but this court has no such inherent powers.”

District government pleader Ujjwala Pawar had opposed the plea, arguing that there was no provision for such interim relief under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). “The court has rejected the bail pleas on merits under the UAPA provisions,” she argued.

Ferreira, as he was led out of his residential building in Thane, said to the media about his arrest: “It’s a political plan for elections to safeguard Bhide and Ekbote.”

Gonsalves , who was under house arrest in his flat in Andheri (east), was taken into custody around 6.30 pm. His son, Sagar, said: “My father and I were quite surprised. We were taken unawares by the suddenness of the move. We expected this to happen Saturday.”

(With inputs from Mihir Tanksale, Nishikant Karlikar & Bella Jaisinghani)

Bharadwaj could be taken into custody on Saturday, the official said.

All three are already under house arrest but the Pune police was not able to get their custody because of stay ordered by various courts.

Following the rejection of their bail pleas, Pune police took Ferreira and Gonsalves into custody.

The Pune police had arrested Ferreira, Gonsalves, Bharadwaj and two others — Telugu poet Varavara Rao and activist Gautam Navlakha — in August this year in connection with the probe into violence in Koregaon Bhima in Pune on Januuary 1 this year.

The police had claimed to have seized emails exchanged between them and top Maoist leaders.

Navlakha was later released by the Delhi high court. The Bombay High Court on Friday extended interim protection from arrest granted to him till November 1, when his plea seeking quashing of FIR will be heard.

District and Sessions Judge Vadane noted that it is not disputed that Bharadwaj is a professor at National Law University, Ferreira a lawyer and cartoonist working for human rights and Vernon a social activist, and they were working for the uplift of the marglialised.

“However, under the pretext of doing social work, human rights work, they are doing work for a banned organization (CPI-Maoist) and (were) involved in the activities with intent to threaten unity, integrity, security, sovereignty of India,” he said.

“At this stage, on the basis of the material collected by the investigation officer, prima facie it reveals that there is a connection of the present accused with the banned organization (CPI-Maoist),” the judge said in Friday’s order.

“Moreover, the investigation is at a crucial stage,” he said.

The material collected by the police shows that the alleged crime was not merely about “disturbance of public order”, the judge said.

“Such anti-national activities throw a challenge to the very integrity and sovereignty of the country and its democratic policies,” said the judge.

The defence lawyers had argued that all the accused are human rights activists.

The judge dismissed the defence’s claims about procedural irregularities during the raids on the activists’ houses.

The court also rejected the defence’s argument that right-wing leader Milind Ekbote, accused of instigating the violence at Koregaon Bhima in Pune district on January 1, had been granted bail and so the accused in the present case too should be released.

The two cases are different, said the judge.

After the bail pleas were rejected, the defence lawyers sought a week’s stay on implementation of the order so that they could file an appeal in the High Court, but the judge did not grant a stay.

Following this, police took Gonsalves and Ferreira into custody, said assistant commissioner of police Shivaji Pawar, who is the investigating officer.

Police alleged that Maoists had supported the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on December 31 last year, which led to the violence. The accused were put under house arrest on Supreme Court’s orders

TOI

 

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