The Bombay High Court Thursday granted bail to activist Mahesh Raut, arrested in the Elgar Parishad Maoist links case
Bombay High Court. File photo for representation
The Bombay High Court Thursday granted bail to activist Mahesh Raut, arrested in the Elgar Parishad Maoist links case. A division bench of Justices A S Gadkari and Sharmila Deshmukh allowed Raut's plea seeking bail on merits.
According to PTI, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) sought the court to stay its order for two weeks so that it could file an appeal in the Supreme Court. The bench then stayed operation of its order for a week. Raut was arrested in June 2018 and is presently in judicial custody.
He had moved HC in 2022 seeking bail and challenging the order passed by the special NIA court refusing him bail.
Raut in his plea had said his custody was unwarranted and that it was against Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. The NIA had opposed the plea saying it was not justifiable to grant an accused, booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to seek bail on constitutional grounds.
As many as 16 activists have been arrested in the case of which five are currently out on bail.
Scholar-activist Anand Teltumbde, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira have been granted regular bail, while poet Varavara Rao is currently out on bail on health grounds.
Another accused, activist Gautam Navlakha, is under house arrest as per the direction of the Supreme Court.
The case pertains to the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which according to the Pune police was funded by Maoists. The inflammatory speeches made there led to violence at the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in Pune the next day, the police had alleged.
The case was later probed by the NIA.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned for four weeks a plea moved by activist Jyoti Jagtap, arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, challenging a Bombay High Court order denying her bail.
Jagtap has moved the apex court challenging the October 17, 2022 order of the high court that refused to grant her bail, saying the National Investigation Agency's (NIA) case against her was "prima facie true" and that she was part of a "larger conspiracy" hatched by the banned CPI (Maoist) outfit.
A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi deferred the matter after advocate Aparna Bhat, appearing in the court on behalf of Jagtap, sought time to file a rejoinder to an NIA affidavit.
The top court granted three weeks to Jagtap to file her rejoinder.
On July 28, a bench headed by Justice Bose granted bail to activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, noting that they were in custody for five years.
The top court had, on May 4, sought the responses of the Maharashtra government and NIA on Jagtap's plea against the high court order.
The high court had said Jagtap was an active member of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) group, which during its stage play at the "Elgar Parishad" conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017 gave not only "aggressive, but highly provocative slogans".
"We are of the considered opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing the allegations or accusations of the NIA against the appellant (Jagtap) having conspired, attempted, advocated and abetted the commission of a terrorist act as prima facie true," the court had said.
According to the NIA, the KKM is a front organisation of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).
The high court had dismissed the appeal filed by the activist-cum-singer challenging a February 2022 order of a special court refusing her bail.
The 2017 Elgar Parishad conclave was held at Shaniwarwada, an 18th-century palace-fort located in the heart of Pune city.
Jagtap, accused of singing and raising provocative slogans at the conclave along with other KKM members, was arrested in September 2020 and has been lodged at the Byculla women's prison in Mumbai since then.
According to the investigators, provocative speeches that were allegedly made at the conclave triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima on the outskirts of Pune on January 1, 2018. (PTI)