Bhima Koregaon accused Shoma Sen has filed a petition before the Bombay High Court challenging the charges slapped against her by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Sen, in her plea, contended that the prosecution’s case against her is built on evidence which was planted on digital devices belonging to a co-accused Rona Wilson.
These records include a series of purported letters allegedly exchanged between Wilson and the members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). She has stated that the evidence against her is forged, hearsay and planted on the device.
Her plea stated that verification report from an independent source of the “clone copies” of the electronic evidence given by NIA establishes that the evidence was forged and planted through dangerous malware.
Sen pointed out that the Forensic Science Laboratory report was silent on the existence of malware or evidence which could show the electronic evidence was tampered with.
She submitted that electronic records relied upon by the prosecution did not satisfy the standards of authenticity and reliability and hence could not be considered as evidence.
In this regard, reliance was placed upon a forensic report by a US-based forensic consulting firm, Arsenal Consulting which stated that the computer which was seized from one of the accused, Rona Wilson, was compromised due to an attack from a significant malware infrastructure deployed over a period of almost two years.
The Arsenal report stated that the malware was deployed not only to attack and compromise Wilson’s computer for twenty-two months, but also to attack his co-defendants in the Bhima Koregaon case.
According to the report, Wilson’s computer was compromised after a series of suspicious emails sent by someone using Dr. Varavara Rao’s email account. 82-year-old Rao is a co-accused in the case.
Sen argued that the presence of an electronic record on a digital device cannot lead to the presumption that the owner of the digital device is the originator of that electronic record. She submitted that instead the source of that record ought to be analysed to know the originator of the content.
Sen was alleged to have been part of the frontal organisations CPI (Maoist) which was banned, however her submission in the plea was that the UAPA did not even recognise frontal organisations.
Wilson had also approached the High Court in February this year seeking directions to appoint a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge and consisting of experts in digital forensic analysis to probe the alleged planting of documents on his computer by using malware.
He sought quashing of the case against him besides seeking compensation for malicious prosecution, defamation and harassment.
Both the petitions are yet to be taken up for hearing by the Court.