Elgar Parishad case: NIA court rejects bail pleas of Prof Hany Babu, 3 other accused

A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Mumbai on Monday, February 14, rejected the bail applications filed by Delhi University professor Hany Babu and three other accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case. Special Judge DE Kothalikar rejected the bail pleas filed by Babu and his co-accused Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap, all three members of the Kabir Kala Manch.

Babu was arrested on July 28, 2020, from his residence in Delhi and is currently lodged in the Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai. Jagtap, Gorkhe and Gaichor were arrested in September 2020 and have been in custody since then. A detailed order of the court is awaited.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon- Bhima war memorial located on the city’’s outskirts. The Pune police had claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.

The probe in the case, in which more than a dozen activists and academicians have been named as accused, was later transferred to the National Investigation Agency.

Earlier on February 9, the Bombay High Court had granted the NIA and the Maharashtra government two weeks’ time to respond to a review petition filed by three activists accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case — Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves — challenging the court’s previous order denying them default bail.

The three undertrial accused have challenged a December 1, 2021 order passed by the bench that granted default bail to lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, a co-accused in the case, but denied default bail to several other accused. At the time, the High Court had said that the accused, other than Bharadwaj, had not filed their pleas seeking default bail before the lower court within the time stipulated by law.

In their pleas filed through advocates Sudeep Pasbola and R Satyanarayanan, the accused have, however, stated that the High Court’s order was based on a “factual error”, as it failed to note that the lower court had rejected the default bail pleas filed by Bharadwaj, the three petitioners and two other co-accused through a common order. Hence, if the High Court, in granting bail to Bharadwaj, set aside the lower court’s order of November 6, 2019, the others too were entitled to relief, the petitioners claimed.

The High Court will hear the matter further on February 24.

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