Elgar Parishad Case: Pune Court’s Move Causes No Prejudice to Accused, NIA Tells HC

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The National Investigation Agency (NIA) told the Bombay High Court on Monday that in taking cognizance of the charge sheet against lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj and some others in the Elgar Parishad case in 2018, the sessions court in Pune did not cause any prejudice to the rights of the accused.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, who appeared for the NIA, told HC the NIA took over the case only in January, 2020, and, hence, there was nothing wrong in a sessions court and not a special court taking cognizance of the charge sheet filed by Pune police and remanding Bharadwaj and others to custody.

Singh made the submissions before a bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar, which is hearing a plea filed by Bharadwaj seeking default bail.

Bharadwaj, through senior advocate Yug Chaudhry, said in her plea that KD Vadane, the judge who remanded her to custody following her physical arrest in 2018 and who had taken cognizance of the charge sheet filed by Pune police in the case, had pretended to be a designated special judge.

Chaudhry had earlier told HC that as per Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), offences under UAPA were scheduled offences, and while the state police was permitted to continue probing the case so long as the NIA does not take over, cognizance of such a case can be taken only by a special court.

On Monday, however, ASG Singh said, “Taking cognizance is irrespective of the default bail application. Even if UAPA is applicable, there is a difference in trial and pre-trial stage of a case. Till the case stands transferred to the special court, the power remains with the sessions court (to preside over it). In all this, there is no pleading that prejudice is caused to them.

On these grounds, the petition need not be entertained.” During previous hearings, the NIA and the Maharashtra government have opposed Bharadwaj’s bail plea and urged HC to not grant her any relief. The HC ill continue hearing the plea on August 4..

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