Bhima Koregaon case: Arsenal Consultancy has no locus standi to give opinion in Shoma Sen’s plea, says NIA

The digital forensic analyst said false evidence was planted against the retired professor to implicate her in the case

June 17, 2021 02:55 pm | Updated 02:56 pm IST - Mumbai:

A view of National Investigation Agency (NIA) Headquarters, in New Delhi.

A view of National Investigation Agency (NIA) Headquarters, in New Delhi.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) told the Bombay High Court on Thursday that Arsenal Consultancy, a digital forensic analyst that said false evidence was planted against retired Prof. Shoma Sen who is an accused in the Bhima Koregaon caste violence case, has “no locus standi to give opinion without court's permission”.

The affidavit was filed before a Division Bench of justices S.S. Shinde and N.J. Jamadar in the petition filed by Ms. Sen relying on the Arsenal Consultancy report and seeking to quash three chargesheets against her in the case.

Vikram Khalate, superintendent of police, NIA, raised questions on the maintainability of the petition and said, the NIA as an investigating agency came into picture on January 24, 2020, after the registration of FIR against her. “The officer denies the report filed by Arsenal Consultancy and by the American Bar Association. The sanction to prosecute her was granted one day before the chargesheets were filed. All contentions raised by the petitioner [Ms. Sen] are entirely based on the basis of the report by Arsenal Consultancy. This report does not form part of the chargesheets filed by the Pune Police and the NIA,” reads the affidavit.

It says: “It is a settled position in law that documents which are not relied upon in the chargesheet cannot be relied upon by the petitioner and as such there is no question of looking into the report of Arsenal Consultancy and the contention of the petitioner deserves to be rejected. When the trial is pending, and the matter is sub judice before the court Arsenal Consultancy has no locus standi to give such opinion without permission of this court.”

The agency goes ahead to say, “the purpose of filing such a petition at this stage is to cause delay in the process of trial. The petitioner is not sure of the person who has allegedly planted the document and as such the entire petition is vague and, therefore, does not deserve consideration.”

The central agency wants the plea to be dismissed and contended, “The computer was attacked when it was in the petitioner's possession and well before the FIR was filed. Therefore, it took place even before the investigating agencies have come into the picture.”

On Thursday, the Bench granted the Maharashtra government a last opportunity to file its reply in this petition and adjourned the matter to be heard on July 13.

On April 30, the NIA had filed a similar reply in the plea filed by co-accused Rona Wilson also seeking to quash the chargesheets against him.

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