Elgar case: Release of Vernon, Arun may get delayed as court rejects bail plea

The case pertains to the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which according to the Pune police was funded by Maoists.

Mumbai: The release of activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, could get delayed as a special NIA court here on Monday rejected their pleas for temporary cash bail.

The court imposed additional conditions for their bail, directing the accused to furnish a PR (personal recognisance) bond of Rs 50,000 each and desist from speaking to the media about the case.

Cash bail refers to the money that the accused pays to get released from jail, whereas a bond is a written agreement between the accused and the court. Bond is a slightly time-consuming process compared with cash bail.

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The Supreme Court on July 28 granted bail to the two, noting that they have been in custody for five years.

The apex court has asked them not to leave Maharashtra and surrender their passports to the police. It also directed the two activists to use one mobile each and let the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the case, know their addresses.

On Monday, Special NIA Judge Rajesh Katariya denied the duo’s pleas for release on cash bail. He directed both to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and two sureties of like amount, a process that could take longer.

A lawyer related to the case said that they will try to complete the formalities by Friday, facilitating the duo’s release.

As per the other conditions imposed by the special court, the activists cannot make any statement about the case in any form of media, be it print, electronic or social media.

They have been directed to attend the court proceedings unless exempted from personal appearance.

The two have been told not to indulge in any activity regarding which the present case is registered against them.

The accused shall not try to contact or communicate with the co-accused or any other person involved in similar activities and make any call either domestic or international to any person indulging in similar activities through any mode of communication, the court said.

The special court has asked the duo not to “tamper” with the prosecution witnesses, either personally or through any other person.

The activists shall not “abscond or try to flee away” from justice, the court said, adding there shall not be any gathering of visitors where the duo shall reside.

The activists had moved the top court against a Bombay High Court order rejecting their bail pleas.

Gonsalves and Ferreira were arrested in August 2018 for their alleged role in the case and have been in judicial custody since then.

As many as 16 activists have been arrested in the case of which three 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.

Another accused, activist Gautam Navlakha, is currently under house arrest as per the direction of the Supreme Court.

The case pertains to the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which according to the Pune police was funded by Maoists.

The inflammatory speeches made there led to violence at the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in Pune the next day, police had alleged.

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