Maha govt to HC: US firm has no locus standi to give opinion in Elgar case

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Mumbai, Jul 13 (PTI) The Maharashtra government has told the Bombay High Court US digital forensics firm Arsenal Consulting, that claimed evidence had been 'planted' on electronic devices of some accused persons in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, had no 'locus standi' to give its opinion without a court order.

The Maharashtra government made the submission in an affidavit filed in the HC on July 1 which was taken on record on Tuesday.

The affidavit was filed opposing a writ petition of activist Rona Wilson, one of the accused persons, seeking that the FIR and the chargesheet against him in the case be quashed.

Wilson is one of the accused persons, on whose computer, an incriminating letter was 'planted', as per an Arsenal report released earlier this year.

In its affidavit, the state government has said that while conducting raids at the homes of Wilson and other accused in 2018, the Pune police, the then prosecuting agency in the case (which was later handed over to the NIA), had followed due process.

The state government said that Wilson had not been singled out or targeted by the police.

It further said Wilson had claimed in his plea that someone had hacked into his computer and planted incriminating material.

It was, therefore, for Wilson to show the court who was behind the alleged act of tampering with evidence, the affidavit said.

'The contentions raised in the petition (of Wilson) are all based on the report of Arsenal Consulting. This report does not form part of the chargesheets filed by the NIA or the present respondent (Pune police),' the state said in the affidavit.

It further said since the Arsenal report was not part of the chargesheets, it could not be relied upon by the HC.

'When trial is pending and the matter is sub-judice, Arsenal has no locus standi (right or ability to bring legal action to a court) to give such opinion without permission of the honourable court,' the affidavit said.

The state government urged the HC to dismiss Wilson's plea, saying it was based entirely on 'disputed questions of fact.' Wilson and his co-accused, professor Shoma Sen, filed two pleas earlier this year through senior counsels Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, citing the Arsenal report and seeking that the charges against them be quashed.

Their pleas were listed for hearing in the HC on Monday but was adjourned to July 26 by a bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar since the petitioners' lawyers were yet to submit copies of the compilations and judgements they wished the court to go through.

Earlier this year, the NIA had filed two similar affidavits opposing the pleas filed by Wilson and Sen.

The Maharashtra government is yet to file its reply to Sen's plea.

Over a dozen activists and academicians have been named as accused in the case that relates to the Elgar Parishad conclave organised in Pune on December 31, 2017. PTI AYA RSY RSY

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