Current AffairsIndia

Special court directs NIA to supply statements of witnesses to Sudha Bharadwaj

The Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court at Mumbai directed the NIA to provide copies of the unredacted statements of the witnesses to Bhima Koregaon accused, Sudha Bharadwaj.

The Court said that the statements should be provided without truncation except for the identity and addresses of the witnesses which can be redacted.

The Court was hearing an application filed by Bharadwaj seeking full statements of witnesses. Bharadwaj contended that copies of witness statements, which were provided to her previously, were not making any sense due to portions of the same being truncated/ redacted.

The application filed through advocates Ragini Ahuja and Chandni Chawla had raised grievance that supplying truncated statements was defeating her constitutional right to fair trial.

The Additional Sessions Judge, DE Kothalikar while allowing the plea also orally asked the NIA to take due care in future regarding providing copies of statements of witnesses.

The Special Court also gave its decision on an application filed by Father Stan Swamy and another accused in the Bhima Koregaon case seeking clone copies of the electronic data taken from them.

After NIA submitted that they had already provided copies of the data taken to the accused, the Court asked NIA to clarify if providing a ‘copy’ could be considered the same providing a ‘clone copy’ of the data.

Eventually, the Court disposed of the application giving liberty to the accused’s lawyers to go to the NIA office to get a ‘clone copy’ of the data that was taken from their clients.

Bharadwaj along with Gautam Navlakha and Hany Babu, co-accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, had also individually filed applications seeking access to five books a month from outside Taloja prison jail and newspapers which were sold within the prison gates.

They alleged that the Taloja prison authorities were rejecting parcels of books which were being sent for them by their friends and lawyers since the jail library does not have sufficient books and texts.

The accused submitted that since they were academicians who spent their lives reading and studying books, they cannot be denied access to books arbitrarily.

Before taking a decision on the application, the Court directed the defence lawyer to submit an affidavit putting on record that the jail authorities had denied giving access to books on the formal application made by the accused.


Via Bar & Bench
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