Pune:

The Gadchiroli police on Wednesday evening took custody of veteran activist-poet-writer P Varavara Rao and activistlawyer Surendra Gadling from the city’s Yerawada jail authorities in connection with a UAPA case related to the 2016 Maoist attack at Surjagadh. Rao and Gadling were lodged in Yerawada jail following their arrests in the Elgar Parishad case, being probed by the Pune police.

A senior police officer associated with the Elgar probe confirmed the development and said a team of the Gadchiroli police had approached the special UAPA court in Pune with a transfer warrant issued by the special UAPA court in Gadchiroli for producing Rao and Gadling there in connection with the Surjagadh case.

“The Pune court allowed their plea, following which Rao and Gadling’scustody was taken from the Yerawada jail authorities. They are being moved to Nagpur and onwards to Aheri, where they would be produced tomorrow (Thursday),” the officer said. Gadling’s lawyer Nihalsingh Rathod told TOI, “The Gadchiroli police had called Gadling’s wife to inform her about his arrest. We will be moving the SC tomorrow (Thursday) morning as we feel the fresh action is in violation of the SC, which has already taken cognisance of the Surjagadh case.”

The Gadchiroli police sought their custody while investigating a 2016 case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of a Maoist attack in Surjagad in the district. The two will be produced in Aheri court in Gadchiroli district at 3 pm on Thursday.

“The Pune sessions court was aware of the Supreme Court proceedings and should have refrained from granting the Gadchiroli police a no-objection certificate as a superior court was seized of the matter,” Nihalsingh Rathod, an advocate associated with the case,. “Besides, there is no reason for Mr Gadling to abscond. He has been to Gadchiroli hundreds of times since 2016.”

The SC has completed the hearing of Maharashtra government’s petition challenging the Bombay high court’s order that set aside the Pune court’s move to grant 90 extra days to the Pune police for filing a chargesheet against Gadling and four other activists arrested in the Elgar case. Rathod said, “At the time of hearing this matter, Gadling’s lawyer had brought to the SC’s notice that the police were trying to implicate Gadling in the Surjagadh matter. The SC bench had called for the FIR, taking cognisance of the matter. Hence Gadling’s arrest is a violation.”

The five named accused in the Gadchiroli case were arrested in January and February last year and granted bail within two months. Three years on, the police has not yet received a sanction to prosecute from the state, which is necessary for cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, nor have they filed a chargesheet.

The Bombay High Court on October 24, 2018, quashed the Pune Special Court’s order that upheld the 90 days extension of filing chargesheet against Surendra Gadling and other activists arrested in June, 2016. The Bombay High Court accepted the argument that the State had not followed the correct procedures for obtaining such extension. This order of the Bombay High Court was then challenged by the Maharashtra government in the Supreme Court.

On December 11, 2018, Senior Advocate Indira Jaising had argued before the Supreme Court that the police was indulging in ever-greening of FIR’s against Surendra Gadling by producing a summons against him in an FIR of 2016 in which he has not been named. She stated that, “it is the modus operandi of the police to implicate people in one case after another”. The Supreme Court has reserved judgment in this case on the issue of ever-greening of FIRs against Gadling.

Evidently, the State is repeatedly victimising the human rights activists and dissidents on fabricated facts and for the fictitious links, while judiciary is hiding behind unacceptable delays in pronouncing the judgment and giving the necessary relief to these eminent citizens who work tirelessly for the downtrodden of the country. The inexcusable delay in pronouncing the judgment is happening despite the fact that lawyers for Gadling et al had pointed out in court that any deferral would give the State and the law enforcement agencies to abuse rule of law and engage in “ever-greening of charges”, which is precisely what is happening now.

The end of the brutal theatre of state-sponsored strafe and hunting of civil liberties and human rights activists in not in light even at the end of the tunnel. The Courts of this country instead of sitting tight on the judgments should wake up and come forward in restoring the justice.

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