Calling Dalit Scholar Anand Teltumbde’ arrest “illegal”, the Pune sessions court has ordered his release. He was arrested by Pune police in the early hours of Saturday from the domestic terminal of the Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai.
The arrest came after the court on Friday rejected Teltumbde’s bail plea in a case related to the Bhima Koregaon violence. After apprehending him at around 3.30 am in Mumbai, he was taken to the Vile Parle police station first, and later to Pune.
The Supreme Court had earlier given him relief from arrest for four weeks, which meant he could not be arrested until February 11, and could approach a ‘competent authority’ for an anticipatory bail.
Referring to the SC order, the Pune court said that the accused will have protection until the stipulated date. It added that the term ‘competent authority’ included the sessions court as well as the high court and the supreme court.
The order read: "[I]mpugned arrest of accused Anand Teltumbde by investigating officer is illegal one and also amounts to contempt of order of Hon'ble Apex Court."
The Pune court order has clarified that Teltumbde has time to approach the Bombay High Court or the Supreme Court until February 11. According to sources, his lawyer senior advocate Mihir Desai will now approach Bombay High Court with the bail application.
Many have condemned Teltumbde’s abrupt arrest, terming it a blatant violation of the apex court’s order. Notably, the letters – which, according to the police, are evidence of Teltumbde’s links with the banned Maoist organisations – were recovered by the Pune police in August. However, until his arrest, the police have not even once called him for an enquiry.
The police had submitted a 'sealed envelope' to the court on January 30, which claimed to have important evidence in the case. While submitting this envelope, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar had claimed that it includes ‘the proofs regarding Anand T in letters found in the possession of others accused in the case’. After these arguments, the court had concluded that the ‘custodial interrogation of the accused is necessary’.
Previously, in this case, five activists – Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson and Sudheer Dhavale were arrested in June 2018. Subsequently, five more activists including Sudha Bhardwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Varavara Rao were arrested.
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