Bhima-Koregaon violence: Sudha Bharadwaj’s lawyer to Bombay High Court No way to verify seized documents, source

Mumbai: Human rights activist Sudha Bharadwaj’s lawyer on Thursday questioned the veracity of the letters and other documents the Pune Police has claimed to have seized during the probe of the Elgar Parishad-Maoist connection case. Bharadwaj, arrested in the case in August last year, has filed a bail application in the Bombay High Court.

Her lawyer, senior advocate Yug Chaudhry, argued before the bench of Justice N W Sambre that these documents were not legally valid evidence.

They were typed and not handwritten, did not bear signatures, and “there is no way to verify their authenticity and source,” he said. “On the basis of such documents that were found on someone else’s computer and that cannot pass the test of the Evidence Act, how can the police keep me (Bharadwaj) behind bars and label me a Maoist?,” Chaudhry asked.

Aruna Pai, representing the police, contended that they had ample evidence to prove Bharadwaj’s links with Maoist organisations. She was “part of a conspiracy” and therefore, it did not matter that the documentary evidence was found not at her house but at a co-accused’s house, Pai said.

Bharadwaj was an office-bearer of organisations such as the Indian Association for People’s Lawyers and the Persecuted Prisoners’ Solidarity Society, which should be considered as incriminating evidence against her, the government lawyer said.

The police had earlier contended that these were front organisations of Maoists. Chaudhry, however, pointed out that none of these organisations were declared as illegal or banned. Justice Sambre is likely to pass the order on Bharadwaj’s bail plea on March 11.

According to the police, speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017 led to violence near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in Pune district the next day. The police have claimed that the conclave was funded by Maoists.

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