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Homechevron_rightIndiachevron_rightElgar Parishad case:...

Elgar Parishad case: activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira to be released as court issues order

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Mumbai: Human rights activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, who were accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, are set to be released from jail on Saturday.

The special court handling cases related to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) issued their release order on Friday. The two activists are currently imprisoned at Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai.

The Supreme Court had granted bail to Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira on July 28, noting that there was no concrete evidence of their direct involvement in any terrorist act as revealed by third-party communications. The bench comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Sudhanshu Dhulia granted them bail, highlighting that merely possessing certain literature that might promote violent acts would not fall under the purview of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

"While the allegations are serious, bail cannot be denied to them solely based on that ground," the bench remarked, taking into account that almost five years had passed since their arrest.

The Supreme Court also laid down certain conditions for their bail, including the stipulation that they should not leave Maharashtra without the trial court's permission and that they must surrender their passports. They were also asked to use only one mobile each and inform the NIA, which is investigating the case, of their addresses. The NIA was given the liberty to seek bail cancellation if any of the conditions were violated.

Gonsalves and Ferreira had approached the Supreme Court after the Bombay High Court had rejected their bail pleas.

Subsequently, the special NIA court added specific conditions to their bail, requiring them to provide a personal recognisance bond of Rs 50,000 each, refrain from speaking to the media about the case, and attend court proceedings unless exempted from personal appearance.

The case involves the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the Pune police alleged was funded by Maoists. It was claimed that the inflammatory speeches made during the event led to violence at the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in Pune the following day.

The case was later taken over by the NIA. In total, 16 activists have been arrested in connection with the case, three of whom are currently out on bail. Scholar-activist Anand Teltumbde and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj are out on regular bail, while poet Varavara Rao is currently out on bail on health grounds. Activist Gautam Navlakha is under house arrest as per the Supreme Court's directive.

The prosecution alleges that Gonsalves and Ferreira actively participated in recruiting and training cadres for the said organization, with Ferreira also managing its finances.

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