National Investigation Agency

MUMBAI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Mond-ay submitted before a special court draft charges against 15 acc-used in the Elgar Parishad case.
The accused were earlier booked for charges relating to sedition and terror activities. The court will now hear arguments on the draft charges from both the prosecution and the defence and then decide what charges, if any, are to be framed against them. “The draft charges are as good as opening the prosecution’s case. Now I have to hear them on which sections are attracted or not…” the court said.

The NIA has alleged that the December 31, 2017, Elgar Parishad at Shaniwarwada, Pune, was funded by the banned CPI (Maoist) as part of a conspiracy to create unrest. The agency alleged that provocative speeches by Kabir Kala Manch activists led to the January 1, 2018, caste clashes at Koregaon-Bhima.

While 16 activists were arrested, Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist, Fr Stan Swamy (84), who was lodged at Taloja jail since his arrest on October 8, died in hospital last month. The prosecution on Monday filed a copy of his detailed death report. Poet-activist Varavara Rao is out on bail.

The NIA had earlier submitted that during investigations, it was found that senior leaders of CPI (Maoist) were in contact with the Elgar organisers and the arrested accused. It further alleged that the accused “conspired to further the ideology of CPI (Maoist) and abetted violence, brought into hatred and incited disaffection towards the government…and promoted enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, caste and community.”

The NIA had invoked charg-es under the IPC relating to sedition, criminal conspiracy, abetment of an offence punishable with death or life term if offence not committed, waging or atte-mpting to wage war or abetting waging of war, against the gove-rnment, promoting enmity between groups on ground of religion, race, etc, destruction of ev-idence and statements conducting public mischief. They were also booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Once charges are framed, accused have to apprise the cou-rt if they plead guilty or not. If it’s the latter, a trial will start ag-ainst them. In the interim, they can move discharge pleas.

During Monday’s hearing, the defence sought a copy of the discharge plea submitted by special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty. The prosecution said the charges were based on the evidence in the chargesheet already submitted. The defence reiterated its plea for cloned copies of all the electronic evidence gathered in the case.

Meanwhile, accused Ramesh Gaichor and Sagar Gorkhe have moved the court seeking bail. The court noted that a report had been received from Taloja jail superintendent about alleged misconduct by Gaic-hor and co-accused Sudhir Dhawale and Arun Ferreira. Accused Anand Teltumbde’s lawyer told the court that he was yet to be taken for his medical tests.