Elgaar Parishad case: 9 accused appear before Mumbai court, sent to judicial custody till March 13

Elgaar Parishad case: 9 accused appear before Mumbai court, sent to judicial custody till March 13

The accused — Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Arun Ferriera, Vernon Gonsalves, P Varavara Rao, Shoma Sen and Sudha Bharadwaj — were shifted from Pune’s Yerawada Central Jail to Arthur Road Jail and Byculla Women’s Prison in Mumbai on Wednesday.  (File)

A MONTH after the investigation in the Elgaar Parishad case was transferred from the Pune police to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), nine accused in the case were produced before a Mumbai court Friday, which sent them to judicial custody till March 13.

The accused — Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Arun Ferriera, Vernon Gonsalves, P Varavara Rao, Shoma Sen and Sudha Bharadwaj — were shifted from Pune’s Yerawada Central Jail to Arthur Road Jail and Byculla Women’s Prison in Mumbai on Wednesday.

On Friday, the NIA informed the court that, in compliance with the Pune court’s order, the nine accused had been shifted to Mumbai for the trial in the Elgaar Parishad case to continue before a special court here. The court had on February 14 directed the case to be transferred to Mumbai after it observed that it did not have jurisdiction to conduct the trial since its transfer to the NIA.

Three accused — Ferreira, Gadling and Gonsalves — told the court that they represent their own case. Ferreira and Gadling were practising lawyers before their arrest in June-August 2018. Earlier, the court called out the names of the accused to mark their presence.

During the hearing, the prosecution apprised special judge D E Kothalikar of the development in the case and informed that while charges were yet to be framed, hearing on applications filed by the accused was pending.

Among the applications pending before the Pune court is a plea to get copies of the hard disks seized by the police as part of their probe. The application, filed before the Pune court last year, had said that the police had not followed proper procedure while submitting electronic data in the court. The police had opposed the plea in the Pune court claiming that the data in the hard disk was “highly sensitive” and could not be shared with the other accused yet to be arrested in the case.

Ferriera, on Friday, told the special court in Mumbai that while the Pune court had allowed them access to legal documents and their chargesheet, running into over 10,000 pages, the Arthur Road Jail authorities had said that there was no space to keep them in the prison. The judge informed them that they will be shifted to Taloja Jail in Navi Mumbai soon.

Pune police had arrested the nine accused in connection with an event held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, and claimed that it was organised by the CPI (Maoists), a banned organisation. The nine accused face charges under several sections including Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

On February 14, the Bombay High Court rejected the anticipatory bail applications of academic Anand Teltumbde and activist Gautam Navlakha. The two, however, have been given interim protection for four weeks to challenge the order before the Supreme Court.