A special court in the city rejected the temporary bail plea on medical grounds filed by academic and activist Anand Teltumbde accused in the Elgar Parishad – Bhima Koregaon case and remanded him to judicial custody.
The civil rights activist had spent 11 days in National Investigation Agency (NIA) custody since April 14, when he surrendered before the agency and was remanded by the court the same day to the agency’s custody for investigation. On Saturday, the NIA did not seek further custody for investigation and sought that he be remanded to judicial custody.
In a bail plea filed immediately thereafter through advocates R. Sathyanarayan, Susan Abraham, Nilesh Ukey and Arif Siddiqui, Teltumbde told court that he is 70-years-old and suffers from spondylitis, diabetes and asthma and that crowded conditions in jail could make things worse. Advocate Sathyanarayan also informed court that an NIA assistant sub-inspector posted at Mumbai NIA office had tested positive for Coronavirus while Teltumbde was in NIA custody. The agency had asked all staff who had come in touch with the ASI to self-quarantine.
Rejecting the bail plea, Additional Sessions Judge DE Kothalikar observed that the applicant’s health was being regularly checked while in NIA custody and hence the contentions made cannot be considered to grant bail. The court also said that the applicant is booked for offences which have punishment of over seven years imprisonment and come under the NIA Act, hence no relief can be given.
Advocate Sathyanarayan said they will be challenging the order in the HC.
The activist also filed another plea to allow him to carry his medications to jail and to be provided a western commode. Additional Sessions Judge DE Kothalikar has sought a report from the jail superintendent on Sunday to decide this plea.
Teltumbde, the husband of a granddaughter of Dr. BR Ambedkar – Rama, had surrendered before the National Investigation Agency’s office in the city on April 14 after the apex court had rejected his anticipatory bail plea along with that of activist Gautam Navlakha. The SC had given them three weeks’ time to surrender, which was later extended by another week. Navlakha had surrendered in Delhi.
The NIA, which had taken over the investigation from the Pune police in January, had produced Teltumbde before court the same day and the court had sent him to the agency’s custody till April 18. Further, his custody was extended on April 18 by another seven days to April 25 as the agency told court it had to confront him with voluminous documents recovered from his co-accused.
The professor who has written extensively on the caste system and advocated dalit rights had been booked by the Pune police for being the convenor of Elgar Parishad event held on December 31, 2017 in which allegedly provocative speeches led to the Bhima-Koregaon violence the next day. The agency also alleges he has links with the banned CPI(Maoist).