In a significant development, the Bombay High Court, while denying bail to Surendra Gadling, an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, observed that prima facie, it’s been established that Gadling had direct memberships of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist).
In its judgment, the court pronounced that on behalf of the evidence on board in the chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) it’s reasonable to believe that the accused was deeply involved in hatching conspiracy and abetting terrorist acts against the state.
The division bench of Justice Valmiki Menzes and Vinay Joshi observed that the accused was actively raising funds and providing financial aid to the Maoists in person, In its verdict the court asserted that the allegations against the accused outweighed the submission made before the bench in the bail petition.
Gadling, through his petition, submitted that he is a senior advocate with a fair record at the bar and a sole breadwinner of his family; he also submitted that he has not been involved in any crime before his arrest in 2018 to which the court observed that the allegation heavily outweighed the submission of the accused.
In its judgment, the bench also refers to the letter found in the hard disk seized at the residence of Gadling, ‘A reading of the letters clearly establish that the accused was not only an advocate of the vastra of the banned outfit but also supporting their cause through his action like raising funds for the outlawed organisation’.
Prima facie, the evidence on board suggests that the appellant Surendra Gadgil was indeed a member of the outlawed CPI Maoist, so the bench sees no reason to overturn the earlier judgment of the session court against the bail petition of the accused.
It should be noted that earlier, Gadling had filed a similar petition before the session court in 2022 in which the session court had refused to grant him bail in March 2022.
The case dates back to 2016 when a group of armed cadres of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) torched 39 vehicles parked before the Iron ore mine in Surajgarh of Gadhchirauli of Maharashtra.
The investigation initiated by the police later revealed Gadling’s undeniable role in the arson, following which he was arrested in January 2019. The latter, however at that time, was already in custody pertaining to his involvement in the Elgar parishad Maoist case.
It should be noted that Gadling, a prominent lawyer by profession, is a co-accused in the Elgaar Parishad case of 2017, in which provocative speeches were made by the Urban Naxal group of the banned CPI Maoist, following which violence broke out on the next day at Bhima Koregaon of Maharashtra.
The case became prominent following the arrest of some so-called human rights activists, scholars and professors, including Gautam Navlakha, Varvara Rao, Prof GN Saibaba, Surendra Gadgil, Sudha Bhardwaj and others.
Sensing a deep conspiracy by the Urban handlers of the CPI (Maoist) in the case, the Modi Government had transferred the investigation to the NIA in 2020 in which as many as 16 people have been so far arrested, including Sten Swami, who died in 2021.
Among the arrested, Varvara Rao and Sudha Bhardwaj have been granted bail, while another accused, Gautam Navlakha, has been put up in house arrest pertaining to his ill health by the court.