The Bombay High Court, in its order granting bail to Bhima-Koregaon Elgar Parishad case accused Anand Teltumbde, said prima facie “it cannot be concluded that Teltumbde has indulged in a terrorist act”.
Sections 16 (punishment for terrorist act), 18 (punishment for conspiracy), and 20 (Punishment for being member of terrorist gang or organisation) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act were prima facie not made out, a bench comprising Justices AS Gadkari and Milind Jadhav observed, LiveLaw reported.
“At the highest” at this stage Teltumbde could be charged with being a member of CPI(Maoist), for which the punishment was a maximum period of 10 years, the bench said in its observation.
Section 20 “cannot be interpreted to mean that merely been a member of a terrorist gang would entail such a member for the above punishment. What is important is the terrorist act and what is required for the Court to see is the material before the Court to show that such a person has been involved n or has indulged in a terrorist act. Terrorist act is very widely defined under Section 15. In the present case, seizure of the incriminating material as alluded to hereinabove does not in any manner prima facie leads to draw an inference that, Appellant has committed or indulged in a ‘terrorist act’ as contemplated under Section 15 of the UAP Act”, the court observed in one of the most significant remarks.
While differentiating Teltumbde’s case from his co-accused DU Prof Hany Babu and activist Jyoti Jagtap’s case, the court said that only 5 documents (letters) and 3 key witness statement are used against Teltumbde.
Anand Teltumbde has been accused by the NIA of being a member of the banned outfit CPI (Maoists) and convener of the Elgar Parishad conference held on December 31, 2017, which allegedly led to violence at Bhima Koregaon the following day, resulting in the death of one person. 73-year-old Teltumbde, after supreme court’s order, had surrendered before the agency and was arrested on April 14, 2020.
After the analysis of five letters presented in the court against Anand Teltumbde, the Bombay HC observed that prima facie the letters, allegedly recovered from co-accused Rona Wilson’s laptop would fall under the “realm of presumption” which would need “further corroboration.”
In reference to one such letter to ‘Anand’ by ‘Prakash’, the Bombay HC refused to accept NIA’s contention that the letter was enough to invoke section 15 of UAPA and said such contention was “prima facie not acceptable” and “palatable.”
“It is seen that Appellant is a man of intellectual prominence in the field of Dalit ideology / movement and merely because he is the elder brother of wanted accused Milind Teltumbde who had gone underground 30 years ago to espouse the cause of CPI(M) cannot be a sole ground to indict the Appellant and link him to the activities of CPI(M),” the court observed.
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