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The transfer of the case from State Police to the Central agency came immediately after the BJP lost power in the State of Maharashtra, the petition claims, thereby implying that the move is “politically motivated”.
Two of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, also known as the Elgar Parishad case, have moved the Bombay High Court challenging the transfer of the probe in the case from Maharashtra Police to the National Investigating Agency (NIA).
The plea was filed by Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawale on Friday, June 19 (Surendra Gadling and Anr vs Union of India and Ors).
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 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, the petition claims, thereby implying that the move is “politically motivated”.
The transfer took place nearly two years after the incident in relation to which the case is registered. However, the plea states that curiously enough, the transfer was done soon after a change in government in the State of Maharashtra after the Assembly elections that took place in 2019.
It is also claimed in the plea that the case stood transferred after the investigation was completed by the State Police and a chargesheet filed. Therefore, the change in the investigating agency would lead to a re-investigation of the case which is impermissible in law.
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.
Further, the transfer was initiated without seeking the leave of the Court, the petition filed by Dhawale and Gadling says. Therefore, it cannot be sustained.
Contending 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 to quash 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 across various States.
These raids and subsequent detentions and arrests were 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. The accused are alleged to have Maoist links owing to which a case under the UAPA has been filed against them.
The petition is filed through Talekar and Associates.