The National Investigation Agency (NIA) told the Bombay high court on Monday that the sessions court in Pune did not cause any prejudice to the rights of lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj and other accused in Elgar Parishad case while taking cognisance of the chargesheet by local police.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, who appeared for the NIA, told a division bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamdar that the NIA took over the case only in January 2020, hence, there was nothing wrong in a sessions court and not a special court taking cognisance of the chargesheet, and remanding Bharadwaj and others to custody.
The HC is hearing a plea filed by Bharadwaj seeking default bail.
Singh argued: “Even if UAPA is applicable, there is a difference in trial and pre-trial stage of a case. Till the case stands transferred to the Special Court, the power remains with the Sessions Court (to preside over it). In all this, there is no pleading that prejudice is caused to them. On these grounds, the petition need not be entertained," Singh said.
During previous hearings, both the NIA and the Maharashtra government had opposed Bharadwaj's bail plea and urged HC not to grant her any relief.
The stringent UAPA was invoked in the case on May 17 2018. Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhkoni had argued that “On January 24, 2020, the Union government passed order to transfer the investigation to NIA. Whereas, the state government passed an order to transfer the probe to NIA on February 12, 2020. Our contention is that the NIA Act will apply from Jan 24, 2020 and from Feb 12, when there was handover.”
Bharadwaj, through senior advocate Yug Chaudhry, said in her plea that KD Vadane, the sessions judge, who remanded her to custody following her physical arrest in 2018, and had taken cognisance of the chargesheet filed by Pune police in the case had pretended to be a designated special judge.
Chaudhry had earlier told HC that as per the CrPC, UAPA Offences were scheduled offences. The state police, as per CrPC, is permitted to continue probing the case so long as the NIA does not take over. However, the cognisance of such case can be taken only by a special court, he had said.
HC will continue hearing the plea on August 4.
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