Special judge DE Kothalikar of the special NIA court rejected activist Stan Swamy’s bail plea in view of “prima facie evidence” that the 83-year-old activist had hatched a “serious conspiracy” with members of a banned Maoist organisation to stir up unrest and overthrow the government.
The grounds on which the activist was denied bail were given in the judge’s order, which was made available to the media on March 23. On March 22, judge Kothalikar had rejected the bail plea of Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, who had been arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case.
The activist, who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease and had lost hearing in both his ears, had applied for bail on medical and merit grounds. He had been shifted to the prison hospital because of his ill-health.
In his order, Judge Kothalikar however said that the bail plea applicant was not only a member of a banned organisation CPI (Maoist) but he was actively working towards “overthrowing” the nation’s democracy. He had plotted a serious conspiracy to stir up “unrest” in the country and “overpower the Government”, politically and by using muscle power, reported PTI.
Before arriving at this conclusion, the court had examined all the material on record, which included 140 e-mails between Swamy and his co-accused. Moreover, the court also found that Swamy had also received ₹ 8 lakh from one “Comrade Mohan” to fund Maoist activities.
The judge however refused to consider a published report that referred to alleged tampering with Swamy’s co-accused Rona Wilson’s computer since that would amount to “interference” with court proceedings. He added that the present proceedings being sub-judice, comments cannot be raised on the authenticity of the evidence.
Swamy was arrested from Ranchi in October, 2020, and has since been in Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai.
In his arguments before the National Investigations Agency court, Swamy’s lawyer Sharif Shaikh had also argued that the activist’s name was not even part of the original FIR but was included in a 2018 remand application by the police as a suspected accused. And that NIA had not found any incriminating evidence against Stan Swamy when they raided his home in Ranchi.
However, the court struck that down by saying that not being named in the initial FIR does not entitle Swamy to any relief. Neither did his old age or alleged sickness would go in his favour, observed the court. Citing previous Supreme Court judgements, the judge upheld that considering the seriousness of the allegations against him, the “collective interest of the community” far outweighs Swamy’s right to personal liberty”.
Opposing Swamy’s bail, the NIA’s lawyer had maintained that the activist supported organisations such as ‘Vistapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan’ and ‘People’s Union for Civil Liberties’, who were all involved with CPI (Maoists). Swamy was also a part of this banned organisation, the NIA maintained.
Stating that all these submissions had “substance”, the judge found no grounds to give bail to Swamy.
The case, in which Swamy has been arrested, relates to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune in December 31,2017. The Pune police had blamed the conclave for triggering violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial.
The Pune police had claimed that the conclave was backed by Maoists. Eleven people, including poet Varahara Rao, were arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case, which was transferred to the National Investigation Agency by the Centre in January. However, in February, the Bombay High Court granted bail to Rao on medical grounds for six months.