The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the NIA’s appeal for cancellation of bail granted by Bombay High Court to activist Anand Teltumbde in the Bhima Koregaon case, with Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud wondering whether mobilisation of Dalits by the accused amounted to proscribed activities.
“The IIT Madras event (before the December 31, 2017, Elgaar Parishad event and the caste violence the next day in which one person died) you allege is for Dalit mobilisation. Is Dalit mobilisation a preparatory act for proscribed activities?”
Justice Chandrachud, heading the bench that also had Justice Hima Kohli, asked additional solicitor-general Aishwarya Bhati appearing for the NIA.
The bench posed the query after Bhati submitted that Teltumbde’s bail ought to be cancelled as he was guilty of mobilising illegal funds for the banned CPI(Maoist) to prepare for the Elgaar Parishad meet.
The ASG submitted that Teltumbde played an active role in the mobilisation of funds for carrying out the activities.
Bhati argued that under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, not just terrorist activities but preparatory acts like mobilising funds and materials also amounted to an offence.
Justice Chandrachud pointed out that there was no specific role assigned to Teltumbde except for the mobilisation of Dalit activists, which cannot be specified as an offence under the UAPA.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the activist, said in response to queries from the bench that the emails allegedly incriminating Teltumbde were actually recovered from the personal laptops of other co-accused to which his client cannot be connected.
Further, Sibal said, the NIA had falsely accused Anand Teltumbde of being in connivance with his brother Milind Teltumbde and other alleged Maoist activists. According to Sibal, Anand Teltumbde had no contact with his brother for 30 years.
The bench said: “The petition is dismissed. However, the observations contained in the impugned judgment of the high court shall not be treated as conclusive finding at the trial.”
The top court passed the order while dealing with the NIA’s plea seeking cancellation of the November 18 bail granted by the high court as according to the agency, Teltumbde was one of the key conspirators of the Bhima Koregaon violence.