The kin of three Elgaar Parishad case accused recently approached the Bombay High Court challenging three orders to transfer 10 accused in the case, out of Taloja Central prison to any other prison in Maharashtra.
The plea was filed through Anand Teltumbde and Surendra Gadling’s wives, Rama Teltumbde and Minal Gadling, along with Sharad Gaikwad, a friend of Sudhir Dhawale.
The petition said that the action by former Taloja prison Superintendent Kaustubh Kurlekar, was 'an act of victimising the accused for having demanded their rights as prisoners,' Indian Express reported.
Special NIA Judge DE Kothalikar’s orders violates principles of natural justice, the petition asserted, as the orders repeatedly permitted transfers of the accused without issuing a notice, giving a hearing to them or recording reasons.
Accusing Kurlekar of cruel and inhuman treatment, the plea adds, “He has deprived them of basic requirements (communication with families), created impediments in the supply of medicine and has acted prejudicially to their detriment and suffering,” LiveLaw reported.
Reasoning that since some of the accused persons were from other Indian states and lodging in the same facility, it has helped the families and lawyers coordinate and visit them in prison, which is closest to the special NIA Court where the trial will be held, the plea added. Therefore, the plea added, the accused should not be transferred.
The High Court is likely to hear the plea later this week.
10 of the 16 academics, lawyers and activists arrested in the case, are lodged in the Taloja Prison, while three are in Byculla Women’s Prison.
Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor are currently lodged in Taloja jail.
According to the police, some activists allegedly made inflammatory speeches and provocative statements at the Elgar Parishad meet in Pune on 31 December 2017. This allegedly led to violence at Koregaon Bhima village the next day. The police has also alleged a conspiracy by the accused to overthrow the government.
While Varavara Rao is currently out on medical bail, Hany Babu is lodged in a private hospital in south Mumbai and Father Stan Swamy passed away on 5 July.
Three Orders Passed by the Special Judge
The petition is filed against three orders passed by the Special Judge on 1 April, 17 June, and 27 June.
Kurlekar had filed the first application to transfer six of the accused to Mumbai Central Prison (Arthur Road), citing decongestion for Taloja, even though Arthur Road housed inmates over three times its capacity, LiveLaw reported.
The second and third applications accused the families and lawyers of taking ‘advantage’ of the COVID pandemic and making ‘false complaints’ through media and putting pressure on Taloja jail to achieve their intention, as per the plea.
However, the petitioners have alleged that it is a matter of record that Varavara Rao and Father Swamy got proper medical treatment only after the High Court’s intervention.
Additionally, spouses of Teltumbde and Vernon Gonsalves were forced to approach the court after the prison authorities arbitrarily disallowed them from sending or receiving letter, the plea adds.
Upset that the inmates were complaining to their family members and lawyers, Kurlekar allegedly stopped posting their grievances and started a new norm to allow only two letters a month.
Moreover, the letters were placed under strict censorship, asking the accused to score off allegations against prison officials. ,
(With inputs from LiveLaw and The Indian Express)
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