Supreme Court upholds Anand Teltumbde’s bail, Says will not Interfere

The Special Leave Petition filed by the NIA was dismissed by the CJI led SC Bench

Anand teltumbde

On Friday, November 25, the Supreme Court rejected the National Investigation Agency’s appeal against the Bombay High Court’s decision to grant bail to Anand Teltumbde in the Elgar Parishad case.

The division bench said that it will not interfere with the High Court order. “We will not interfere. Dismissed,” the Court said, as per Bar&Bench.

The activist and academic, who is 72, will now be granted bail. “Observations of HC shall not be taken as definitive conclusion in all instances,” a bench chaired by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli further declared, as provided by LiveLaw.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) moved the present appeal before the Supreme Court challenging an order of the Bombay High Court granting bail to the Dalit rights activist in the case relating to his alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon violence of 2018. The case against Teltumbde by the NIA was that he was one of the convenors of the December Elgar Parishad event, where he also had made provocative speeches leading to riots on January 1, 2018. 

In connection with the Elgar Parishad case, Teltumbde has been imprisoned since April 2020. On November 18, the Bombay High Court granted him bail. However, the National Investigation agency (NIA) requested that the High Court’s judgment be stayed so that it may dispute Anand Teltumbde’s bail in the Supreme Court. The High Court had stayed its order for a week to enable the NIA to file appeal before the Supreme Court.

In their plea to the Supreme Court, the NIA claimed that Teltumbde’s bail was improperly granted by the High Court, following a “mini trial and roving inquiry.” It was pointed out that while hearing the bail petition, the High Court examined in detail as many as five documents seized during investigation along with three statements. The NIA further argued that the High Court examined each document in great detail and made observations that would affect the trial and investigation.

It was suggested that if Teltumbde were to be granted bail, NIA’s efforts would be fatally wounded.

In an appearance on behalf of the NIA, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati argued that the communications retrieved from Teltumbde unmistakably indicated plans to disrupt law and order.

“Then one letter says to celebrate naxalbari movement and how Comrade Anand gave inputs for the same and how to increase student participation,” the ASG said, as per Bar&Bench.

“What is the role attributable to him? Specific role to him to bring UAPA Sections into action… we are seeing (only) Dalit mobilisation etc,” the Court asked.

“Even without terrorist activity, coordinating with proscribed organisation etc is also an offence,” the ASG replied, as per Bar&Bench.

She said that Teltumbde was associated with CPI(Maoist), a banned organisation,

“In this matter there are charges under as many as 8 Sections of UAPA…The High Court errs in this that it says that the material that the prosecution has shown does not inspire confidence qua Section 15, 18 and 20,” ASG Bhati submitted. She went on to cite several documents revealing Teltumbde’s ‘deep involvement” with with CPI(M), as provided by LiveLaw.

“CPI(Maoist) was declared as a proscribed organization since there were hundreds of attacks across the country specially targeting the security forces,” Bhati explained, as per Bar&Bench.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who was arguing on behalf of Teltumbde, told the court that none of the documents had been found on Teltumbde. The emails that Teltubmde is said to have sent have allegedly been found on Rona Wilson’s Computer. Teltumbde was also alienated from his brother Milind Teltumbde, a Maoist commander who was killed in a clash with security forces last year, according to Sibal. Sibal stated, “I haven’t seen him in thirty years,” as per LiveLaw.

Judgment of the High Court:

A Division Bench of Bombay High Court has granted bail to Dalit scholar and former IIT professor Anand Teltumbde who was booked under the stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act (UAPA) in the Bhima Koregaon case.

The bench comprising Justices AS Gadkari and Milind Jadhav had reserved the order last week after having extensively heard Teltumbde’s appeal against Special NIA Court’s order dated July 12, 2020 rejecting his bail. The 72-year-old scholar has been in custody since April 14, 2020 when he was arrested by the NIA.

His bail has been decided on merits whereby the court has held that offences under section 13 (unlawful activities), 16 (terrorist act) and 18 (conspiracy) of the UAPA are not made out against him and only sections 38 (offences related to membership of a terrorist organization) and 39 (Offence relating to support given to a terrorist organization) were made out. While the bail has been granted, the same has been stayed for a week upon NIA’s request to allow it to appeal before the apex court.

The judgment can be read here:

Brief Background of the Case:

The case against Teltumbde is that he was the convenor of Elgar Parishad conference held on December 31, 2017 which led to clashes in Bhima Koregaon resulting in one person’s death. When the police probed further and the NIA took over the case, it was alleged that there was a conspiracy to assassinate the Prime Minister. The NIA also alleges that Teltumbde is an active member of CPI (Maoists) and also linked him to his late brother, Milind, who was the Secretary of the (Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh) unit of the banned CPI(M). He was shot  at last year by security forces. Teltumbde asserted that he is critical of maoist ideology and that he had broken contact with his late brother for 25 years.

In his petition, Dr. Teltumbde denied the prosecution’s allegation that he was a convenor of the Elgar Parishad. The petition pointed out that he disagreed with the contents of the pamphlets and agendas of the Elgar Parishad, and wrote an article that clearly established the intellectual independence and disconnect of Dr. Teltumbde with Elgar Parishad or Bhima Koregaon, reported The Leaflet.

Chronology of the Case:

In October 2019, bail applications of three social activists, including Dr Teltumbde were rejected by the Bombay High Court

In April 2020, Dr. Teltumbde had to surrender to the NIA for allegedly being a senior member of the banned CPI (Maoist) and working in urban areas.

In September 2021, a special NIA court rejected Dr. Teltumbde’s bail on medical grounds. Dr. Teltumbde had raised the contention that he suffered from chronic asthma, chronic cervical spondylitis, supraspinatus tendinopathy, and prostatomegaly.

On December 1, 2021, the special NIA court denied Dr. Teltumbde’s interim bail application to be with his 90-year-old mother in the wake of the death of his brother Milind Teltumbde, a top Naxal leader, in an encounter with security forces. On March 6 this year, the Bombay High Court granted the activist’s plea to visit his mother, while also directing the Maharashtra government to consider Dr. Teltumbde’s health in respect of his mode of conveyance.

On March 31, Dr. Teltumbde moved the Bombay high court with the plea that he was wrongly charged under the UAPA, and contended that the NIA had failed to directly attribute to him any particular act of violence in the actual case. In April, Dr. Teltumbde approached the NIA’s special court seeking discharge against the charges imposed on him on the ground that the NIA had not yet produced any material before the court to actually prove that he was a member of the CPI (Maoist). 

On November 11, a division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justices A.S. Gadkari and Milind N. Jadhav concluded hearing arguments pertaining to Dr. Teltumbde’s appeal challenging his rejection of bail by the NIA special court in July last year.

The division bench thereafter reserved the matter for orders. On November 18, 2022 the bench of the Bombay High Court granted bail to Dr Anand Teltumbde on merits.

Senior counsel Mihir Desai and advocate Ms Devyani Kulkarni appeared for Dr Teltumbde.



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