Supreme Court Grants Bail to Shoma Kanti Sen in Elgar Parishad Case

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to Shoma Kanti Sen, English literature professor and women’s rights activist, arrested on June 6, 2018 in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Augustine George Masih directed that she be released on bail on such conditions as the special court may deem fit and proper. The top court said the conditions shall include that Sen shall not leave the state of Maharashtra without the permission of the special court.

The bench granted Sen bail after noting that the NIA did not oppose her bail and hence, the stringent conditions for bail under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act would not apply.

“The appellant (Sen) shall inform the investigation officer of the NIA about the address where she shall reside during the period she remains enlarged on bail,” the bench said.

It said she shall use only one mobile phone number during the bail period and share it with the investigating officer of the National Investigation Agency.

“The appellant shall also ensure that the mobile remains active and charged round the clock so that she remains constantly accessible throughout the period she remains enlarged on bail,” the bench said.

“During the period during which Sen remains on bail, the appellant shall keep the location status, that is GPS of her mobile phone active 24 hours a day and her phone shall be paired with that of the investigating officer of the NIA to enable him at any given time to identify the appellant’s exact location,” the bench said.

While on bail, Sen shall report to the Station House Officer of the police station, within whose jurisdiction she shall reside, once every fortnight, the apex court said in its order.

“In the event there is breach of any of these conditions or any other conditions that may be imposed by the special court independently, it would be open for the prosecution to seek cancellation of bail granted to the appellant before the special court…,” the bench said.

“Section 43(D)(5) (of UAPA) restriction should not apply to the petitioner. We have noted that the Additional Solicitor General (who appeared for NIA) stated custody is no longer needed. Once we hold that 43(d)(5) of the 1967 act does not apply.... She should not be denied the privilege of being released on bail,” the court said in its order.

After the Bombay High Court in January last year directed her to approach the special NIA court for bail, she approached the apex court for relief.

In December 2018, she had moved her bail plea before the Pune Sessions Court prior to filing of chargesheet and another application after filing of chargesheet.

The trial court, however, rejected both the pleas by way of a common order in November 2019.

After this, the investigation in the case was transferred to the NIA and the trial was transferred to the special NIA court.

Following this Sen had approached the High Court for bail in 2020 but she was directed in January 2023 to approach the special NIA court first.

Sen moved the top court challenging the High Court order.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017 which allegedly triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the city’s outskirts.

In its FIR, the Pune Police had alleged that the conclave was backed by the Maoists.

The probe in the case, in which more than a dozen activists and academicians have been named as accused, was later transferred to the NIA.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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