Three more accused, including activist Navlakha, seek discharge in Elgar case

While Navlakha and Babu are currently in jail under judicial custody, Bharadwaj is out on bail.
Civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha  (Photo | PTI)
Civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha (Photo | PTI)

MUMBAI: Activists Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj and Delhi University professor Hany Babu, all accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, on Tuesday moved discharge applications before the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court here.

The trio filed separate applications before special judge Rajesh J Katariya through their advocate Yug Chaudhry.

Chaudhry claimed the case against his clients was "completely bogus, made up of a stack of inadmissible evidence, consisting of innuendos, rumours and shadows". There was no evidence worth the name, he maintained.

It is indeed sad that such eminent people have to stay in jail for so long only because of the draconian nature of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the anti-terror law under which they have been booked, the lawyer added.

While Navlakha and Babu are currently in jail under judicial custody, Bharadwaj is out on bail.

Meanwhile, the court on Tuesday heard the arguments on the discharge plea of another accused, Sudhir Dhawale. The arguments will continue on Wednesday.

The judge said as per an order passed by the Supreme Court, the special court is required to frame charges against the accused and decide on the pending discharge applications within three months from the order dated August 18.

The discharge pleas of some other accused - Jyoti Jagtap, Anand Teltumbde and Mahesh Raut - were also pending before the court.

More than a dozen activists and academicians have been named as accused in the case.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.

The Pune Police had also claimed the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links.

An FIR was lodged by the Pune Police on January 8, 2018 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The NIA later took over the probe into the matter. Discharge is a legal remedy available to an accused who thinkS false allegations have been made against him.

If the evidence presented before the court concerned is not sufficient to prove the offence and in the absence of any prima facie case against him, he is entitled to be discharged.

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The New Indian Express