The operation of the bail order is, however, directed to remain in suspension for a week to enable the NIA to appeal
ON Friday, a division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justices A.S. Gadkari and Milind N. Jadhav granted bail to Dr. Anand Teltumbde, the 71-year-old Dalit scholar, academic and activist charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly being a senior member of the banned organisation, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) (‘CPI (Maoist)’). He is currently lodged at Taloja Central Jail, Navi Mumbai and is awaiting trial.
According to the directions of the high court, however, the operation of the bail order is to remain under suspension for a week, as sought by the National InvestigationAgency (‘NIA’) to enable it to appeal to the Supreme Court.
On November 11, the division bench of the Bombay high court concluded hearing arguments pertaining to Dr. Teltumbde’s appeal, challenging the rejection of his bail application by an NIA Special Court by an order dated July 12, 2021.
The bail petition, argued by senior advocate Mihir Desai, highlighted the contradictions in the prosecution’s story as to Dr. Teltumbde’s alleged involvement in the Elgar Parishad meeting on December 31, 2017, leading to violence. According to the petition, the prosecution fails to specify any act or omission that can be attributed to Dr. Teltumbde or other co-accused persons in formulating, directing, participating, or implementing the policy of CPI (Maoist).
The petition noted that the chargesheet filed in the present case runs to thousands of pages and the prosecution intends to examine over 200 witnesses. Pleading Dr. Teltumbde’s fundamental right to a speedy trial, the bail application apprehends that the trial will take years to complete and that the denial of Dr. Teltumbde’s bail will mean his continued incarceration for years.
In April 2020, Dr. Teltumbde had to surrender to the NIA for allegedly being a senior member of the banned CPI (Maoist) and working in urban areas.
In September 2021, a special NIA court rejected Dr. Teltumbde’s bail on medical grounds. Dr. Teltumbde had raised the contention that he suffered from chronic asthma, chronic cervical spondylitis, supraspinatus tendinopathy, and prostatomegaly.
On December 1, 2021, the special NIA court denied Dr. Teltumbde’s interim bail application to be with his 90-year-old mother in the wake of the death of his brother Milind Teltumbde, a top Naxal leader, in an encounter with security forces. On March 6 this year, the Bombay high court granted his plea to visit his mother, while also directing the Maharashtra government to consider Dr. Teltumbde’s health in respect of his mode of conveyance.
On March 31, Dr. Teltumbde moved the Bombay high court with the plea that he was wrongly charged under the UAPA, and contended that the NIA had failed to directly attribute to him any particular act of violence in the actual case. In April, Dr. Teltumbde approached the NIA’s special court seeking discharge against the charges imposed on him on the ground that the NIA had not yet produced any material before the court to actually prove that he was a member of the CPI (Maoist).