NIA moves UAPA court seeking documents related to Elgaar Parishad case

Sushant Kulkarni
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Pune City Police has alleged that Elgaar Parishad, a conference organised at Shaniwar Wada on December 31, 2017, ahead of the 200th commemoration of battle of Koregaon Bhima, was held as part of the strategy of and with the funds given by the CPI-Maoist. (File photo)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has taken over the Elgaar Parishad case from Pune City Police, on Wednesday approached the special court hearing the case, asking for transfer of all court documents and seized objects to a special NIA court in Mumbai.

It also told the court that it had filed a fresh FIR in the case, as part of the procedure, and submitted it on January 27 to the special NIA court in Mumbai, which adjudicates on all NIA cases arising in the western region.

Defence lawyers said it was not clear whether NIA’s petition in the Pune court was a result of a delay in formally getting charge of the case from Pune police or part of routine procedure. They said it was possibly the first time that NIA was taking over a case at a stage when even a chargesheet had been filed. Usually, the cases are handed over to the NIA at a much earlier stage.

It has been three days since an NIA team came to Pune asking for a handover of the case. Pune Police have told them that they were still to get orders from the office of DGP in Mumbai to hand over the case papers to NIA. While the NIA is empowered by law to take over any case in which the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) is invoked, the Maharashtra government has expressed its displeasure over the decision of the Centre to hand over the Elgaar Parishad case to NIA.

The NIA moved the application on a day when the Pune court was not scheduled to hear the case. Neither the prosecution lawyers nor the defence was present in court when the application was moved by NIA officials.

“We have come to know that an application has been made by NIA to the special court in Pune for transfer of all record and proceedings (of the case) to the special NIA court in Mumbai. It has also been indicated to us that an NIA FIR has been registered. The say of the state government and all accused has been called for and the matter has been kept for hearing on Monday (February 3),” said Rohan Nahar, defence lawyer for one of the accused.

A copy of the NIA application has been sent to the prosecution and also to the nine accused who have been arrested in the case so far. All the arrested are lodged in Pune’s Yerawada central prison.

Along with the two supplementary chargesheets, the documents and electronic data seized from the accused, and the papers of proceedings of the case, have been in the custody of the special court. The NIA has sought the transfer of all this material to the special NIA court in Mumbai.

Elgaar Parishad was an evening event organised at Pune’s Shaniwar Wada on December 31, 2017, a day before the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, which every year attracts lakhs of pilgrims to a war memorial in the village of Kore-gaon Bhima, 25 km northwest of Pune. On this occasion, violence broke out in areas around Pune, resulting in the death of one person and injuries to several others.