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‘Mini trial by HC, Maoist links’: Why NIA wants Bhima Koregaon accused Teltumbde to stay in jail

The NIA has appealed to the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court's bail order last week for former management professor Anand Teltumbde, who is facing charges under UAPA.

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New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Tuesday accused the Bombay High Court of conducting a “mini-trial” while granting bail to social activist and former Goa Institute of Management professor Anand Teltumbde, one of the accused in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence case, terming the relief as “legally flawed”.

The central agency has now moved the Supreme Court seeking cancellation of Teltumbde’s bail, reiterating the prosecution case that the activist was associated with the CPI(Maoist) and that he travelled widely to attend conferences organised by “international communist organisations”.

Teltumbde was granted bail on 18 November after the Bombay High Court set aside an NIA special court’s order last year, which had declined to give him relief.

While granting Teltumbde bail, a high court division bench of Justices A.S. Gadkari and Milind Jadhav had observed that, prima facie, the evidence placed before it did not “inspire confidence” that the former professor had committed terrorist acts under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, better known as UAPA, under which he had been charged.

While the NIA chargesheet had pointed to Teltumbde’s extensive travels as indicative of his alleged “Maoist” funding and activities, the court noted that he had been delivering lectures at prestigious institutes abroad, like the London School of Economics and Harvard University, and in India.

The NIA had also submitted that the activist’s brother, Milind Teltumbde, was a wanted CPI(Maoist) accused, who was killed in an encounter. The court, however, said this could not be “sole ground to indict” Anand Teltumbde and link him to the organisation’s activities.

In its plea, the NIA has registered its objections to the HC’s bail order on legal grounds, while also underlining its allegations that Taltumbde was part of a Maoist conspiracy.

Also read: Of 16 accused in Elgar Parishad case, one dead, two out on bails and 13 lodged in jails

What NIA’s plea says

According to NIA, under the guise of his academic visits, Teltumbde used to attend international conferences to exchange literature on ideology, training and working strategy of CPI(Maoist) with international communist organisations.

The literature, collected at these conferences, was then used to train party members and also carry out strategic development of the organisation, the NIA appeal has stated.

To justify its allegations against Teltumbde, the agency also claimed that he was instrumental in organising fact-finding missions on the direction of the CPI (Maoist), which allegedly allocated Rs 10 lakh to him to further the agenda of the organisation on international platforms.

The NIA claimed that investigation in the Bhima Koregaon case showed that Teltumbde had made efforts for the release of CPI (Maoist) members Murugan and G.N. Saibaba, who had been jailed in other cases.

The other grounds on which the NIA wants the top court to set aside the Bombay HC bail order include Teltumbde’s purported appreciation for the work of co-accused Shoma Sen, a former professor of Nagpur University, and the late former CPI(Maoist) central committee member Sridhar Srinivasan.

The NIA also said that the HC had disregarded the Supreme Court’s 2020 order that had declined pre-arrest bail to Teltumbde. In that order the SC had held that it was of the opinion that “it cannot be said that no prima facie case is made out”.

According to NIA, the High Court conducted a “mini trial, held a roving enquiry, analysing each and every document and 164 statements threadbare”. This, it said, was contrary to the settled law and judicial pronouncements of the apex court.

“Such minute examination of the witnesses’ statements and each document would influence trial and investigation of NIA, which is contrary to settled judicial pronouncements,” NIA has told the top court.

The NIA’s plea further claimed that HC’s bail order had “failed to take into account” that all other attempts made by Teltumbde to get relief had been denied “holding that there is a prima facie case as against the respondent herein”.

Teltumbde has been accused of being one of the main convenors of Pune’s Elgar Parishad (Congress for Speaking Aloud) event on December 31 2017, in the immediate wake of which violence broke out among Dalits and Maratha groups. Subsequently, “Leftist groups with Maoist links” were accused of instigating the violence.

Lodged in a Navi Mumbai prison since his arrest in April 2020, Teltumbde has claimed he was not in the city at the time and had not made provocative speeches. He moved the Bombay HC last year after the NIA court refused him bail.

(Edited by V S Chandrasekar)

Also read: ‘Consider his age’, says SC after NIA opposes Bhima Koregaon accused Navlakha’s house arrest plea


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