Bombay HC, Bhima Koregaon
Bombay HC, Bhima Koregaon
Litigation News

Bhima Koregaon: Centre, NIA to file their response before Bombay High Court on petition challenging transfer of probe to NIA

Centre and NIA sought time from the Court to take instructions and file a response on plea filed by two accused Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawale terming the transfer as "politically motivated"

Shruti Mahajan

In a petition challenging the transfer of probe in the Bhima Koregaon case to the NIA, the Centre and NIA have sought time from Bombay High Court to file their response. (Surendra Gadling and Anr vs Union of India and Ors)

The Bench of Justices SS Shinde and Abhay Ahuja fixed the matter for hearing in July after the Additional Solicitor General representing Centre sought time to file a response to the plea that questions the order to transfer the investigation to NIA.

In the plea, the move to transfer the investigation from Maharashtra Police to the NIA has been questioned and alleged to be a political move.

In January this year, the probe in the case was transferred to the Central agency. Various rights activists, academicians, etc have been accused and charged under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in the case.

This petition filed by Gadling and Dhawale, two of the accused in the case, says that this move to transfer the case from State Police to the Central agency came immediately after the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) lost power in the State of Maharashtra, thereby implying that the move is “politically motivated”. The petition says,

“The impugned orders are vitiated due to malafide and political expediency, as the transfer was undertaken by the Central Government after much delay and curiously immediately after BJP lost power in Maharashtra”

It is also claimed in the plea that the case stood transferred after the investigation in it was completed by the State Police and a chargesheet filed. Therefore, the change in the investigating agency would lead to re-investigation of the case which is impermissible in law.

Further, the transfer was initiated without seeking the leave of the Court, the petition filed by Dhawale and Gadling says, and therefore cannot be sustained. The order to transfer the probe is also against the scheme of the NIA Act itself given that the statute does not provide for empowering the Central government to transfer a case after the investigation in the same has been completed and trial commenced, the petition goes on to aver.

Therefore, claiming the transfer orders to be arbitrary, discriminatory, unjust and in violation Articles 14, 20, and 21 of the Constitution of India, the two activists have prayed for quashing of the transfer order through which the NIA took up the case that was registered in a Police Station in Pune, Maharashtra.

In July of 2018, the Maharashtra Police had carried out raids on the residences of various activists, academicians, lawyers etc in connection with the caste-based violence that took place on January 1 of 2018 in Pune immediately after the 200th commemoration of the battle of Bhima Koregaon. The celebration was called “Elgar Parishad” and this conclave was alleged to have been backed by Maoist outfits.

The persons arrested in relation to this case include Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Sudha Bhardwaj, Shoma Sen to name a few and the accused are alleged to have Maoist links owing to which a case under the UAPA has been filed against them.

The petition was filed on June 19 through Talekar and Associates.

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