Activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, walked out of prison in Navi Mumbai on Saturday afternoon with a special court issuing their release order.
The two, who were lodged in Taloja Central Jail, were granted bail by the Supreme Court a week ago. Supporters and relatives of the activists waited outside the prison to receive them, a police official said.
With their release, five out of the 16 accused in the case are now out on bail. One of the 16 – Jesuit priest Stan Swamy – died at a private hospital in Mumbai in July 2021 during judicial custody.
SC Granted Bail To Both Activists On July 28
Earlier in the day, a lawyer said a special court hearing cases related to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) issued their release order on Friday. The apex court on July 28 granted bail to the accused, noting that the actual involvement of Gonsalves and Ferreira in any terrorist act has not surfaced from any third-party communications.
The SC bench comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Sudhanshu Dhulia granted bail noting that mere holding of certain literature through which violent acts may be propagated would not attract the provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
“Considering the fact that almost five years have elapsed, we are satisfied they have made out a case for bail. The allegations are serious, no doubt, but for that reason alone, bail cannot be denied to them,” the bench said.
The SC also asked them not to leave Maharashtra without the trial court’s permission and surrender passports. It also directed the activists to use one mobile each and let the NIA know their addresses.
The court granted liberty to the NIA to seek cancellation of bail if there is any violation of the bail conditions. The activists had moved the top court against a Bombay High Court order rejecting their bail pleas.
Bail Given With Restrictions
The special NIA court imposed additional conditions for their bail, directing the accused to furnish a personal recognizance (PR) bond of Rs50,000 each and asking them not to speak to the media about the case. It also directed them to attend the proceedings before the court unless exempted from personal appearance.