‘Only HC has power to transfer Elgaar Parishad case’

Counsels for State, defence continue arguments in sessions court on application filed by NIA

Published - February 07, 2020 12:55 am IST - Pune

The respective counsels of the Pune Police and the nine activists arrested in the Elgaar Parishad case told a sessions court here on Thursday that only the Bombay High Court had the power to transfer the case to the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Mumbai.

The court was hearing their arguments on an application filed by the NIA seeking transfer of the Elgaar Parishad case materials to the special NIA court in Mumbai.

District government pleader Ujjwala Pawar, representing the Pune police, further said that the city police was capable of conducting the investigations and that there was no need for NIA to take over the Elgaar Parishad probe in its present stage.

Ms. Pawar pointed out that the main charge sheet as well as the supplementary charge sheet had already been filed by the Pune police in the case, stating that there was no need for the NIA to take over the case at this stage.

Additional Sessions Judge (special) S.R. Navandar posted the next hearing for Friday.

The Pune Police’s response to the NIA’s application underscored the tug-of-war between the Centre and State governments following formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

While the police had pursued the case and arrested prominent intellectuals and activists when the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government was in power, it now seems to be procrastinating in handing over the case records.

Incidentally, the FIR filed by the NIA does not include Sections 121 (waging war against government of India) and 121A (conspiracy to commit offence under 121) of the IPC which pertain to sedition.

The Centre’s decision to abruptly transfer the case to the NIA followed reports of the MVA government mulling formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the investigation conducted by the Pune Police into the Elgaar Parishad case.

It was Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar who suggested the constitution of the SIT after he publicly cast aspersions on police investigations.

Last week, a three-member team from the NIA, led by an officer of the superintendent rank, had conferred with authorities from the Pune Police involved in the Elgaar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case and had held a review meeting.

The Pune police had informed the NIA team that as documents pertaining to the case were being presented as evidence in court, that they would be handed over to the agency post an order from the Maharashtra Director-General of Police (DGP).

Among those arrested in the case include poet-activist P. Varavara Rao, noted trade unionist Sudha Bharadwaj, activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, advocate Surendra Gadling, Prof. Shoma Sen and writer-publisher Sudhir Dhawale – all of whom are presently lodged in Pune’s Yerwada prison.

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