Stan Swamy bail application rejected

A special court on Monday rejected the bail application of tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Elgar Parishad case.

The 83-year old Ranchi resident has been lodged in Taloja Central Jail for the past five months. The NIA had arrested Swamy on October 7 from Ranchi, brought him to Mumbai the next day and filed a chargesheet against him and seven others. He has been in judicial custody since then.

In his bail plea, Swamy had said his arrest was “uncalled for” and “malafide”. It said that his custody was not sought over two years after the FIR was filed in 2018, which showed that he was not considered a flight risk or someone who would tamper with evidence.

The 31-page bail plea filed through his lawyer Sharif Shaikh in November had also said that Swamy has been targeted by the investigating agency due to the “nature of his writings and work” about “caste and land struggles of the people in India and violation of the democractic rights of the marginalised citizens of India”.

The NIA chargesheet filed against Swamy had claimed that he is a member of banned organisation, CPI (Maoist) and that he was given the responsibility of spreading its activities after the arrest of many party members since he had an NGO named Bagaicha in Jharkhand.

Swamy had denied this stating that while the NIA alleges his links with Maoist groups based on some documents found on his laptop, the format in which the documents are found can be “easily manipulated and planted on an insecure digital divide”.

The bail plea also said that he was nowhere connected to the organisation of the Elgar Parishad event on December 31, 2017, which the NIA claims was linked to the violence in Bhima Koregaon the next day. The NIA through special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty had said that Swamy was found to be convening meetings held to condemn the arrest of the others in the case and alleged that there was evidence on foreign funds received by his organisation.

In October last year, Swamy had sought interim bail referring to the guidelines by the state’s High Powered Committee appointed on directions of the Supreme Court, recommending decongestion of jails during the Covid-19 pandemic. The NIA, however, had also then opposed the plea stating that there is no merit in Swamy seeking relief as per the committee’s guidelines.

“The accused, Stan Swamy, under the garb of the current situation on account of the global pandemic Covid-19, is trying to take an undue benefit of the situation…in seeking bail….,” the NIA’s reply to the bail plea stated. The special court had rejected the interim bail plea on October 22.

The detailed order of the special court pronounced on Monday is yet to be made available.

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