Bhima Koregaon: NIA court rejects Arun Ferriera’s application seeking formal order allowing interception of emails

NIA court directs prison authorities to return letters addressed and not delivered to Surendra Gadling. 

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ON Monday, the special National Investigation Agency (‘NIA’) court, presided by Special Judge Rajesh Kataria, rejected an application filed by lawyer and activist Arun Ferriera, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon- Elgar Parishad case and in custody since August 2018. The application sought direction for the prosecution to provide a copy of the formal order of the interception by which his emails (electronic evidence) were intercepted.

On July 29, Ferreira argued that the seizure and analysis of the same by the NIA fall under the expansive definition of ‘interception’ under Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (‘IT Act’), which mandates a prior formal order. Ferreira submitted that the interception of emails, as retrieved by the NIA within an hour of being sent and used as evidence, stands illegal. NIA replied that all due measures were complied with, including taking permission from the competing authority, conducting panchanama, and recording its audio and video.

Further, the special NIA court on Monday allowed human rights lawyer and Dalit rights activist Surendra Gadling’s application and directed the prison authorities at Taloja jail to hand him all his undelivered letters addressed to him.

On July 29, Gadling, a co-accused in the Bhima Koregoan case, argued that his wife and colleagues have written him letters that were opened in his absence and not accepted to be delivered to Gadling without citing any reason. His application, which was earlier filed, prayed for letters addressed to him to be opened in his presence, and for action against the jail authorities for not following the protocol in delivering him his letters and money orders.

On August 18, a Supreme Court bench, directed the trial court to frame charges within three months and hear discharge pleas of the arrested persons accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.

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