Another PIL in HC for NIA probe in activists' arrest

Another PIL in HC for NIA probe in activists' arrest

Bombay High Court

A day after the Bombay High Court expressed displeasure over the press conference by the Maharashtra police on the arrests of activists with Maoist links, another PIL has been filed seeking the transfer of the case from Pune police to National Investigation Agency (NIA) and action legal against top cop Parambir Singh.

The PIL has been filed by Sanjay Ramesh Bhaleraoth through advocate Nitin Satpute. The PIL would come up for hearing in due course of time. 

Last week, Singh, the Additional Director General of Police (Law & Order),  accompanied by Joint Commissioner of Police Shivajirao Bodkhe and Assistant Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar of Swargate Division,  addressed a press conference in the Maharashtra police headquarters justifying the arrests.

On Monday, during the hearing of a PIL filed by Pune-based businessman Satish Surgiv Gaikwad seeking an NIA probe, a division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justice SS Shinde and Justice Mrudula Bhatkar, remarked: “How can the police do this? The matter is sub-judice. When the Supreme Court is seized of the matter then revealing information is wrong."

Last week, five civil rights defenders and human rights activists - P Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira - were arrested by the Pune police for alleged Maoists links, however, the Supreme Court ordered all five of them to be placed under house arrest - after commenting  - "dissent is safety valve of democracy". The next date of hearing on PIL in the apex court is scheduled for 6 September.

In the new petition, Bhalerao, who claims to be a witness, has pointed out that the Pune police has come up with a "new concocted story" that the incident of Koregaon Bhima has been instigated by Elgar Parishad held in Shaniwarwada in Pune held a day earlier. 

The PIL stated: "...the NIA is an investigation agency at the national level to investigate and prosecute offences affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, security of state, friendly relations with foreign states and offences under Acts enacted to implement international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organisations and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto for investigation and prosecution of offences affecting sovereignty, security and integrity of India."

The petitioner further states: "Although the Centre has suo motu power to take up any case that falls within the stipulated eight laws, in practice, it has ventured into cases only on the invitation of the states. The NIA is investigation agency specially equipped to investigate the matters under the Unlawful Activity Prevention Act 1967 and it will be fair if the FIR No 4/2018 is investigated by the NIA for fair, Impartial and proper investigation for the interest of justice."

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