Bhima Koregaon: NIA says it has already supplied copies of all electronic evidence provided by FSL to the accused

Today, the National Investigation Agency informed the court that it has already supplied cloned copies of all electronic evidence it relies on in the Bhima Koregaon case with the accused. It also sidestepped compliance with the previous Order of the court on providing a chart showing evidence shared and pending with the accused by stating that such a chart had already been furnished by the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL). 

ON Thursday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed a reply stating that cloned copies of all evidence received from the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) have already been supplied to accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon–Elgar Parishad Maoist links and criminal conspiracy case.

The NIA court, presided by special judge Rajesh Kataria, was hearing an application filed by Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira on November 8 last year claiming NIA’s non-compliance with Section 207 (supply of a copy of the police report and other documents to the accused) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Gonsalves is a trade unionist and activist and Ferreira is a lawyer and activist. The duo is accused in the Bhima Koregaon–Elgar Parishad Maoist links and criminal conspiracy case.

Both the accused had been held in custody since August 2018 on allegations of involvement in offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA). On July 28, they were granted bail by the Supreme Court, considering their long incarceration without trial.

Section 207 provides for the supply to the accused of police reports and other documents relied upon by the prosecution under the principles of natural justice.

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.

Today, the NIA’s reply stated that except for cloned copies of devices relied upon by the prosecution in the case of journalist and human rights activist Gautam Navlakha, all material received from the FSL has been supplied to the accused persons.

Gonsalves and Ferreira’s application had also prayed for the court to direct the NIA to provide a chart and comply with the Order, dated May 23, 2022, of the predecessor judge of the NIA court.

The predecessor judge had directed the agency to furnish a chart consisting of the details of cloned copies of electronic devices, which have to be supplied to the accused persons.

In response, today, the NIA stated in its reply that the FSL already provided the information sought in the chart under forensic examination reports, which are part of the chargesheets filed by the Pune police and the NIA.

In addition, the NIA also filed an application in the court for sending sealed cloned copies, which were deposited before the court, to the FSL to prepare further copies for Navlakha.

During the previous hearing, on January 16, in reply to Navlakha’s application seeking cloned copies of evidence on an electronic device seized by the investigating authorities and relied upon by the prosecution, the NIA had admitted to not having supplied cloned copies of all electronic evidence.

The NIA had submitted that only two sets of cloned copies were received from the FSL— one of which is submitted to the court and the other is with the prosecution, not sealed.

Advocate Shifa Khan, appearing for Navlakha, had pointed out that that the NIA has previously filed an affidavit stating that it has provided cloned copies of all materials relied upon by it to the accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon case. 


In connection with the Elgar Parishad–Bhima Koregaon case, on June 6, 2018, Pune police arrested several activists, lawyers and academics.

These included human rights lawyer and Dalit rights activist, Surendra Gadling; Dalit rights activist and editor of the Marathi magazine Vidrohi, Sudhir Dhawale; activist and researcher, and member of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, Rona Wilson.

The former head of the English department at Nagpur University, 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 were also arrested.

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 Navlakha were arrested and lodged in Mumbai’s Taloja jail.

In the 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; and musical performers, anti-caste activists and members of the cultural troupe Kabir Kala Manch, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap, were also arrested.

Trial is yet to begin in the Bhima Koregaon case. The prosecution in the case has filed a chargesheet exceeding 5,000 pages and intends to cross-examine at least 200 witnesses.

Ten of the 16 accused persons are presently incarcerated, having now spent two to almost five years in judicial custody without trial.

Five co-accused persons, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Dr Anand Teltumbde, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, have been released on bail. Navlakha and Raut have been granted bail but are waiting for a decision on the stay Orders by the Supreme Court.

Another accused, tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy, passed away in judicial custody in July 2021 after contracting Covid in prison while awaiting bail on medical grounds.