Community’s interest outweighs Swamy’s right to liberty, said judge | India News – Times of India


MUMBAI: Tribal rights activist Fr Stan Swamy, picked up from his Ranchi home last October, was the last of the arrests in the three-and-halfyear-old Elgar Parishad case. The oldest of the 16-odd accused, his plea has remained one of innocence; he had fought for his liberty on grounds of ill-health and Parkinson’s disease.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) which arrested him a day before he was charge-sheeted, opposed his bail applications claiming that the investigation “established’’ him to be a “member of CPI (Maoist) and actively involved in its activities’’ and also “in contact with some of the conspirators — Sudhir Dhavale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Arun Ferrriera, Vernon Gonsalves, Hany Babu, Shoma Sen, MAhest Raut, Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navalakha and Anand Teltumbde, etc for furtherance of its activities.’’ In its March 22 order, the special NIA court Judge D E Kothalikar, rejecting his plea for bail on merit, said he is accused of belonging to a “terrorist organisation” and conspiring to overpower the government, politically and by using muscle power. The court had said the “collective interest of the community” would outweigh the right of personal liberty and Swamy’s old age or alleged sickness would not go in his favour.
Judge Kothalikar said from documents produced by NIA, it could be gathered that Swamy and other members of the banned CPI (Maoist) had hatched a conspiracy to fuel unrest and overpower the government. Swamy was carrying out activities to further the objectives of the organisation which was nothing but to overthrow “the democracy of the nation”, the court held.
The court order also said, “…if seriousness of allegations made against the applicant are considered in proper perspective…there will be no hesitation to conclude that collective interest of the community would outweigh the right of personal liberty of the applicant and as such the old age and or alleged sickness, of the applicant would not go in his favour,” the court said.
Fr Swamy’s contention was that mere allegations of being a Maoist does not call for continued custody. He had also pleaded that he was not present in Pune at the time of the Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017, neither was he named in the January 8, 2018 FIR filed by the Pune police. The main thrust of his defence was on “admissibility of the documents”, that NIA was relying on “hearsay” evidence to connect him. His case was that nothing was seized from him and he was “not involved in any anti-national activitiy’’.
The NIA also pointed to “exchange” of around 140 emails between Fr Swamy and co-accused, and the fact that Swamy, co-accused Sudha Bhardwaj and other members of the Persecuted Political Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC) had condemned the conviction of professor G N Saibaba and others under UAPA for Maoist links.
His case was that the letters cited by the prosecution “do not establish that they were actually sent’’ and their authorship was uncertain. Swamy was actively helping tribals and ‘moolvasis’, had founded an organisation named Bagaicha, and had written and researched extensively on issues of caste, religion, land rights and people’s struggles, said his petitions.
His plea was that the role of PPSC is to provide legal aid and that is no offence. But the NIA claimed he was a “staunch supporter of the activities of organisations like Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA)…frontal organisation of CPI (Maoist).”
The NIA argued, and the trial court agreed, that such arguments on evidence could be considered during trial and had hence denied him bail in March, on merit.





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