Bombay HC: Anand Teltumbde’s genuine concerns need to be addressed

Mumbai, Mar 16 (PTI) The Maharashtra government and the National Investigation Agency [NIA] told the Bombay High Court on Wednesday that activist Anand Teltumbde, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, had refused to visit his mother despite the high court granting him permission as he was not satisfied with the travel conditions imposed by the court.

Teltumbde had instead written a letter to the Taloja prison superintendent, saying he intended to challenge the high court order before the Supreme Court. This just shows Teltumbde’s “attitude”, the state government’s counsel Sangeeta Shinde told the high court.

But, Teltumbde’s counsel Mihir Desai told the high court that he had “personally spoken” to his client and the latter had no intention of challenging the high court’s order.

The high court said even if Teltumbde intended to challenge its order or wished to seek modification of the travel conditions, he had the legal right to do so.

The arguments took place while the high court was hearing a plea filed by Teltumbde, who is lodged at the Taloja jail in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, seeking regular bail in the case.

On March 2 this year, a bench of Justices S.B. Shukre and G.A. Sanap had permitted Teltumbde to visit his mother, who lives in the state’s Chandrapur district, between March 8 and March 10 under police escort, in the wake of the killing of his brother and Maoist leader Milind Teltumbde in an encounter with police in November last year.

In the order, the high court had specified the train that  Teltumbde was to take to go to Chandrapur and also said that while the undertrial scholar could meet his mother during the day, he would have to spend the nights in police or judicial custody.

On Wednesday, after Shinde submitted in a sealed cover the letter Anand Teltumbde had written to the prison superintendent, advocate Desai told the court that Teltumbde had at that time undergone a spinal surgery at the state-run J.J. Hospital in Mumbai.

“He had completed the medical procedure of the spine and was in physical pain. He was also to undergo a molar extraction, so he thought he should not undertake a train journey. He wanted to take a flight instead,” Desai said.

“However, since there was a court order (permitting the visit), he thought he might be forcibly taken out of prison,” he said.

But, Shinde and the NIA’s counsel Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh told the high court that since the letter was written and signed by Teltumbde himself and mentioned explicitly his intention of filing an appeal, there was clearly no coordination between the “petitioner (Teltumbde) and his advocate.”

The high court bench, however, said even if Teltumbde intended to challenge the high court order before the Supreme Court, or wished to litigate further to get the travel conditions modified, he had the legal right to do so.

“In such matters, a broad view, or consideration is necessary. He has spent over two years in custody. He is there with so many ailments. Looking at the condition of the prisoner, his age, etc., we don’t think that there is any problem,” the HC said.

Desai reiterated that his client did not wish to go to the Supreme Court against the high court’s order.

“He (Anand Teltumbde) is 71 years old. He wrote it out of exasperation,” Desai said.

But, the state’s counsel said she had brought the letter to the high court’s notice as she thought it was her duty as a court officer.

“This letter just shows the attitude of the petitioner. He has been in custody for two years, but now he doesn’t want to go,” she said.

The high court will further hear the activist’s bail plea on March 30.