The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal filed by the National Investigation Agency against a Bombay High Court order granting bail to Dalit rights activist Anand Teltumbde in the case relating to his alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon violence of 2018.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud (CJI) and Justice Hima Kohli said that it will not interfere with the High Court order.
“We will not interfere. Dismissed,” the Court said.
However, it added that the observations by High Court in its bail order will not weigh during trial.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) moved the present appeal before the Supreme Court challenging a November 18 order of the Bombay High Court granting bail to the activist.
The case against Teltumbde by the NIA was that he was one of the convenors of the December Elgar Parishad event, where he also had made provocative speeches leading to riots on January 1, 2018.
The scholar had moved the High Court in September last year after the Special Court under the NIA Act had rejected his bail holding that he was a member of banned organisation, Communist Party of India (Maoist).
The High Court had passed its order granting bail after extensively hearing the bail application.
The High Court had said that there was no evidence prima facie against Teltumbde to suggest that he indulged in ‘terrorist acts’ under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, as alleged by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The bench had stated that only the offences under Section 38 and 39 (relating to membership in terrorist organisation) were made out against Teltumbde.
The maximum punishment in those offences is 10 years of imprisonment, and Teltumbde had already been incarcerated for more than 2 years in prison, the High Court had said.
In view of this, it released him on bail after payment of ₹1 lakh as surety.
The High Court had stayed its order for a week to enable the NIA to file appeal before the Supreme Court. The NIA’s petition before the top court said that the High Court erroneously granted bail to Teltumbde after conducting a “mini trial and a roving inquiry”.
It was pointed out that while hearing the bail petition, the High Court examined in detail as many as five documents seized during investigation along with three statements.
Further, the NIA contended that the High Court minutely went into the details of each document, and made observations that would influence the trial and investigation.
If Teltumbde is allowed bail, NIA’s efforts would suffer a fatal blow, it was stated.
Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Teltumbde, however countered the submissions.
“All the documents shown here are not recovered from me, none of them. they are not even emails,” he said.
He vehemently argued that Teltumbde is a Dalit rights activist and the foreign trip he had undertaken as alleged was sponsored by the hosting institute.
“He wrote about impact of neo liberal globalization on dalits. This is the issue, wherever there is a Dalit issue he is there. They (NIA) say he was funded for Paris visit. The institute had paid for the trip. No money comes from anywhere else,” Sibal said.
Sibal also questioned the logic in dubbing a person as associated with CPI (Maoist) merely because the person is addressed as a ‘comrade’ by someone.
“Their (NIA’s) best case is if someone refers to Anand Teltumbde as ‘dear comrade’ then he becomes an active member of the CPI (Maoist). He has travelled to LSE, MIT etc to deliver lectures etc. High Court notes that the person is of intellectual eminence. Just because he is the elder brother of deceased maoist person does not make him guilty,” Sibal said.