MUMBAI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has told the Bombay High Court that the accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case were “mixing up and controverting crucial facts without much base and confusing the court to frustrate the trial proceedings”.
In an affidavit filed before the high court earlier this week, the NIA urged a bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and S V Kotwal that it would provide cloned copies of electronic evidence relied upon by the central agency in the case to activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha and other accused once it received them from the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL).
The agency urged the court to not stay the trial proceedings in the interim before the special court.
It also denied the allegations made by the accused persons in the case that the cloned copies of electronic evidence seized from them had been tampered with, and added that the cloned copies of five such evidence pieces were being examined by the FSL and once it received them, it would provide the copies to the accused.
The accused persons were “mixing up and controverting crucial facts without much basis and confusing the court to frustrate the trial proceedings”, it alleged and said that to delay the trial was the “ulterior motive” of the accused persons.
The NIA’s affidavit was in response to the petitions filed in August this year by Bharadwaj and Navlakha, seeking clone copies of all devices seized from them in the case by the central agency.
They had said through senior counsel Yug Chaudhary that while the special court had scheduled framing of charges in the case on August 23, after which the trial will commence, the accused had not yet received certain material, including cloned copies of the digital hard disc recovered by the probe agency.
They had said that denial of the cloned copies was in breach of their fundamental rights.
At that time, the NIA had said that it would defer the framing of charges until further hearing in the high court on the present plea seeking cloned copies.
In its affidavit before the high court, the NIA said that it had already provided some of such cloned copies and the delay in providing the remaining was in no way a breach of the accused’s rights.
“Thus, the supply of few pending electronic documents which are already relied on against the accused cannot be an alleged non-curable violation of fundamental rights,” their affidavit read.
The appeal praying for clone copies of electronic evidence under section 207 of CrPC is going to be supplied to the accused persons.
However, the interim prayer for stay of the trial proceedings is strongly objected, it added.
The high court will next hear the plea on November 22.
The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the ‘Elgar Parishad’ conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon- Bhima war memorial located on the city’s outskirts.
The Pune Police claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.
The probe into the case was later transferred to the NIA.