Spl UAPA Judge In Pune To Pass Order On Feb 14
The state prosecution on Friday opposed the National Investigation Agency’s plea for transfer of the Elgar Parishad case records, seized properties and proceedings to the special NIA court in Mumbai, stating that it was “not legally tenable” under the provisions of law.
In its detailed submission before the additional sessions judge SR Navandar, in Pune, the state prosecution, opposed the application filed by National Investigation Agency (NIA) seeking the transfer of the Elgaar Parishad case to its special court in Mumbai.
The prosecution argued against the NIA application on the grounds of jurisdiction and stated that the reasons given by the agency in its plea are not legal or sufficient to require the transfer of the case as sought. “The offence was committed within the jurisdiction of the local court. The charge sheet has been filed and draft charges (in the supplementary chargesheet) have also been filed and the matter is fixed for the framing of charges,” pointed out Ujjwala Pawar, the district government pleader.
To underscore her arguments, she referred to sections 11, 13 and 22 of the NIA Act. She explained that while Section 11 of the Act empowers the central government to constitute a special court for the trial of scheduled offences, section 13 states that such crimes investigated by the agency shall be tried by the special court within whose local jurisdiction the offence was committed. She further contended, “As per section 22 (of the Act), the state has the power to investigate matters having Maoist link. A special court has been established in Pune to conduct the trial of the scheduled offences, so there is no need to transfer the case to Mumbai. The case is at the stage of framing of charges, therefore the application filed by NIA is not valid.”
Having attacked the very premise of the application, she added, “There is ample evidence against all the accused present before the court, as well as those who have absconded, besides Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde. While rejecting the bail application filed by the accused the Bombay High Court had held that there is a deep-rooted conspiracy and therefore investigation is necessary.”
The additional sessions judge SR Navandar reserved the order in the case for February 14. It may be recalled that serious sections of the Indian Penal Code have been slapped on the accused. These include 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging or attempting to wage or abetting to wage war against the Government of India) 121A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable un section 121), 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 117 (abetting commission of offence by public or more than 10 people).
The Pune police filed an over-5000-page charge-sheet against 10 activists in November 2018. These included Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Sudhir Dhavale, who were arrested in June 2018. Other five accused who are missing include Maoist leaders – Dipak alias Milind Teltumbde, Kishanda alias Prashant Bose, Prakash alias Rituparn Goswami, CPI(M) leader Ganapathy alias Chandrasekhar and Deepu alias Manglu.
The case has stirred a political controversy in recent times. On January 24, the Centre transferred it from Maharashtra to the NIA citing the ‘gravity of offence’. The move came just a day after the MVA government demanded proof for the sedition charge against the arrested activists and Sharad Pawar sought a special investigation team to probe the case.
“The NIA’s investigating machinery has not given any legal and sufficient reasons for transferring the case proceedings to the special NIA court in Mumbai,” special public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar submitted before the special UAPA judge, S R Navander.
She submitted that Section 22 (2) of the NIA Act empowered the state government to constitute one or more special courts for the trial of offences under the act. “The state has established such courts and considering that one of the special courts is in Pune, the application for transfer of records, seized properties etc to the NIA court, Mumbai, is required to be rejected,” she said.
Judge Navander has posted an order on the NIA’s plea for February 14.
Pawar submitted, “The offence was committed within the local jurisdiction of the Pune court and the investigating authority, after completion of the investigation, filed the chargesheets before this court and as such, the matter is fixed for framing of the charges.”
She argued that the police had collected enough evidence not only against the nine arrested activists, but also the other two (Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde), whose anticipatory bail pleas are pending in the HC.
State & NIA battle over jurisdiction
The SC, while disposing of historian Romila Thapar’s petition seeking a court-monitored SIT probe into the case, had held in September 2018 that “it is not a case of arrest because of mere dissenting views expressed or difference in the political ideology of the named accused”, she submitted.
Pawar said, “The SC also held there is ample evidence against all the accused present before the court as well as the absconding accused and accused Navlakha and Teltumbde.” The prosecutor then went on to interpret the definition of court under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and provisions related to establishment of special courts under UAPA and the NIA acts and their jurisdictions.
In reply, NIA’s lawyer Namdev Taralgatti submitted that Section 11of the NIA Act enabled transfer of the case proceeding to Mumbai.
“The jurisdiction of this (special UAPA) court is ousted as per NIA Act, besides, NIA, Mumbai office’s jurisdiction covers Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, and the same stands notified in the past,” Taralgatti submitted.
TOI and Pune Mirror