Bhima Koregaon: NIA gets more time to reply to plea for furnishing copies of evidence to the accused

A few accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon–Elgar Parishad Maoist links and criminal conspiracy case have previously argued that their applications for cloned copies under Section 207 of the Code of Criminal Procedure have been pending for more than five years.


ON Tuesday, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) court of special judge Rajesh Kataria allowed the agency time to file an additional reply to the applications filed by accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon–Elgar Parishad Maoist links and criminal conspiracy case.

The plea is for the NIA to comply with Section 207 (supply to the accused of a copy of the police report and other documents) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

During the previous hearings, the accused persons had raised the grievance that despite filing several applications with the investigating authorities under Section 207 of the CrPC, they had not been allowed access to the compact disks, which are an important piece of evidence furnished by the NIA in the case.

In an affidavit previously filed by the NIA on compliance under Section 207 of the CrPC, it provided details of the cloned copies of electronic evidence seized from the accused persons. 

The affidavit submitted that eight copies of five cases have not yet been received from the regional forensic science laboratory (RFSL) in Pune. Such copies will be served to the eight accused persons after the NIA receives them from the RSFL, the affidavit said.

Besides the eight copies, the affidavit claimed that the Pune Police and the NIA have provided hard copies of the chargesheets, relied-upon documents and soft copies of the electronic evidence to the accused persons. 

On July 1, advocate Shifa Khan, appearing on behalf of a few accused persons— Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha and Hany Babu— filed a pursis praying the court to direct the NIA to submit a chart consisting the details of electronic devices seized in the case, cloned copies of electronic devices that are already supplied by the accused persons, cloned copies that are yet to be supplied and the dates by which the NIA will supply the rest of cloned copies. 

The NIA was directed to file a reply to the pursis by the next date.

Vernon Gonsalves, trade unionist, activist and academic and co-accused in the Elgar Parishad case, filed an application on behalf of himself and Surendra Gadling, human rights lawyer and Dalit rights activist, emphasising that the NIA must follow a sample chart to provide details of the cloned copies of the evidence seized by it under Section 207 of the CrPC.

Activist and lawyer Arun Ferreira argued that the accused persons in the Elgar Parishad–Bhima Koregaon case have filed applications for cloned copies under Section 207 of the CrPC since the time the case was filed, that is, five years ago.

Today, at the request of the special public prosecutor appearing for the NIA, Prakash Shetty, the court granted yet more time to file an additional reply to the plea by the next hearing date.

The matter is posted for further hearing on the applications filed under Section 207 of the CrPC on July 28.


In connection with the Elgar Parishad–Bhima Koregaon case, on June 6, 2018, Pune police arrested Surendra Gadling; Dalit rights activist and editor of the Marathi magazine Vidrohi, Sudhir Dhawale; activist and researcher and a member of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, Rona Wilson; former head of English department at Nagpur University, and Dalit and women’s rights activist, Shoma Sen; and forest rights activist and former fellow of Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Programme of the Union Ministry of Rural Development, Mahesh Raut.

On August 28, 2018, activist, poet, writer and teacher Dr P. Varavara Rao; trade unionist, activist and lawyer, Sudha Bharadwaj; Arun Ferreira; Vernon Gonsalves and a human rights activist, journalist, Gautam Navlakha were arrested and lodged in Mumbai’s Taloja jail.

In subsequent months, scholar, writer and civil rights activist, Dr Anand Teltumbde; tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest, Father Stan Swamy; an anti-caste activist, Hany Babu; musical performers, anti-caste activists and members of the cultural troupe Kabir Kala Manch, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap, were arrested.

Trial is yet to begin in the Bhima Koregaon case. The prosecution has filed a chargesheet exceeding 5,000 pages and intends to cross-examine at least 200 witnesses. Several of the accused persons have now spent almost five years in judicial custody without trial.

Three of the accused persons, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao and Anand Teltumbde have managed to secure bail so far. Another co-accused, Father Stan Swamy, passed away due to COVID in custody in June 2021 after incarceration of over seven months.

An investigation by Arsenal Consulting, a leading, independent expert firm on digital forensics, has revealed that sophisticated malware was used to plant the digital evidence that forms the basis for the prosecution’s case on the devices of two of the accused persons in the case, Gadling and Wilson. Arsenal’s findings were published in four reports in 2021.

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