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Teltumbde moves HC for quashing UAPA’s ‘frontal organisation’ provision

Anand Teltumbde, an accused in the Elgar Parishad Maoist links case, has filed a writ petition in Bombay High Court seeking that a provision under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to brand certain groups as a front for banned or terrorist organisations be quashed as it was bad in law.

IMAGE: Activist and scholar Anand Teltumbde had surrendered before the NIA in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, in Mumbai, in April 2020. Photograph: PTI Photo

The UAPA provides for the declaration of an association as unlawful and for the listing of organisations in the first schedule of the Act as ‘terrorist organisations’.

 

In the Elgar Parishad case, Teltumbde and his co-accused have been charged by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) as being members of frontal organisations working on behalf of the banned CPI (Maoist).

Incidentally, Stan Swamy, late Jesuit priest and Teltumbde’s co-accused in the case, Stan Swamy, had also filed a plea seeking several reliefs, including quashing of the frontal organisations provision under the UAPA. Swamy’s plea is currently pending hearing in HC.

On Monday, a bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar heard a separate plea filed by Teltumbde, that challenged a special court’s order denying him bail on merits.

On July 12 this year, the special NIA court in the city had rejected Teltumbde’s bail plea observing in its order that there existed a prima facie case against him under the UAPA.

While the bench issued a notice to the NIA seeking its reply to Teltumbde’s bail plea within three weeks, it said the present writ petition on frontal organisations will also be heard along with the bail appeal on October 7.

In the writ petition filed last month through senior counsel Mihir Desai and advocate Devyani Kulkarni, Teltumbde said the “vagueness” of the term frontal organisations was often used by prosecuting agencies as a tool to circumvent due process.

Some of the frontal organisations mentioned by the NIA in its charge sheet in the case and in several of its affidavits include the Committee of Protection for Democratic Rights (CPDR) and the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL).

Teltumbde, in the petition, said CPDR was among the oldest democratic organizations founded by late playwright Vijay Tendulkar, while PUCL was one of the oldest civil liberties organisation in the country.

He said that such provision for frontal organisations was violative of a citizen’s right to life, equality, and free speech guaranteed under the Constitution.

Teltumbde was arrested by the NIA in April 2020 and has been in judicial custody in the Taloja prison since then.

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