NIA gets 2 weeks to reply on pleas of Bharadwaj, Navlakha seeking clone copies of all seized devices

By PTI

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Friday granted two weeks’ time to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to file its reply on the petitions of activists Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, both accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, seeking clone copies of all the electronic devices seized from them by the central agency.

Bharadwaj and Navlakha had approached the high court last month seeking such copies.

On August 20, the high court had directed the NIA to file its reply over it.

On Friday, however, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh told a bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar that the NIA’s reply was “almost ready” and sought an additional two weeks’ time to file it.

The bench granted the central agency additional time after Singh said that it will continue with its oral statement made on the last date that charges in the Elgar Parishad-Maoists links case will not be framed before the special NIA court in the city until the next date before the high court on the above pleas.

Last month, the NIA had submitted draft charges before the special court and the latter had scheduled the matter for framing of charges on August 23.

Bharadwaj, Navlakha and some other co-accused in the case had sought clone copies of the electronic devices before framing of charges.

The accused had at the time urged the special court to defer the framing of charges till their applications for clone copies are disposed of.

After the special court refused to defer the framing of charges, Bharadwaj and Navlakha approached the high court.

On Friday, their counsel, senior advocate Yug Chaudhry, told the bench that there existed some confusion on which electronic devices had been seized by the NIA from the accused and which copies should be handed over to them.

He said the NIA must clarify the same in its reply.

Singh, however, said the central agency would follow its own discretion in filing the reply and not the suggestion made by the petitioners.

The high court accepted Singh’s statement on deferring the framing of charges in the case until the next date of hearing on the pleas.

It said it would hear the pleas further on September 24.