Elgaar Parishad case: Court directs NIA to remain present for report on cloned copies

The special court hearing the Elgaar Parishad case directed an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to remain present before it for a report on the pending issue of providing cloned copies of electronic devices to all the accused.

Citing the Supreme Court direction to decide on framing of charges and discharge pleas of the accused within three months, the court also said it will begin hearing the discharge applications of four accused from next week.

Fifteen people are facing trial in the Elgaar Parishad case on charges, including Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. While two have been granted bail, seven have been in custody since 2018 and six since 2020. The accused have been submitting before the court that till they are provided cloned copies of the electronic devices seized from them and other orders of the court are not complied with, the court cannot proceed with the trial.

On Friday, special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty said most of the accused have been given the copies and this should not stop the trial from proceeding. “Nobody is denying that the cloned copies are to be given. But the case should not be stalled,” Shetty submitted.

He also sought directions from the court to the forensic science laboratory in Pune, which is preparing the cloned copies to be given to the accused. The accused submitted that since the NIA is relying on the electronic devices as evidence, they cannot defend themselves till are given the entire material the prosecution will be putting forth.

“The onus is on the prosecution to comply first. There has to be speedy justice but also fair justice. The accused are not delaying the matter as is being said time and again,” said accused Arun Ferreira.

Special Judge Rajesh Katariya directed the NIA to ensure that the concerned officer remains present during the next hearing. “The court can then be informed how much time will be required or we can fix a period,” the judge said. Four accused — Anand Teltumbde, Mahesh Raut, Jyoti Jagtap and Sudhir Dhawale — have so far filed discharge pleas that will be heard from September 23.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Vernon Gonsalves withdrew the temporary bail application filed on his behalf, stating that he is currently admitted at JJ Hospital and is receiving the required medical treatment.

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