The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday sought that the Bombay High Court dismiss a petition filed by poet Varavara Rao and two other activists, arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, seeking a review of an earlier order of the HC that refused to grant them default bail.
The NIA in its affidavit said the accused were seeking the same prayer of default bail under the guise of review, and that it was an abuse of the process of law and sets a wrong precedent.
The probe agency filed its affidavit in response to a review petition filed by the three activists - Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves - challenging a previous order of the high court that refused to grant them default bail in the case.
While Mr Rao is currently out on medical bail, the other two activists are lodged in jail.
The NIA said through the petition, the accused are seeking to alter the observation made by the HC after verification of record and hearing of the case.
"The applicants ought to have approached the appellate court in appeal instead of this court by introducing fresh arguments and seeking default bail which has been already decided by this court as unsustainable," the NIA said.
"Once the matter has been adjudicated and dismissed by this court, the applicants cannot come up with the same prayer under the guise of review. This is an abuse of the due process of law and completely thwarts the systematic procedure of law and the same sets a wrong precedent," the agency said in its affidavit.
The three accused have challenged an order of December 1, 2021, passed by the bench led by Justice Shinde that granted default bail to lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, a co-accused in the case, but denied default bail to some other accused persons, including the three petitioners.
At that time, the High Court had said the accused persons, other than Bharadwaj, had not filed their pleas seeking default bail before the lower court within the time stipulated by law.
The NIA in its reply said section 362 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) puts an embargo on the court to alter or review a judgment passed by the HC on merits.
However, in their pleas, filed through advocates Sudeep Pasbola and R Satyanarayanan, the accused said the HC's order was based on a "factual error," for it failed to note the lower court had rejected the default bail pleas filed by Bharadwaj, the three petitioners, and two other co-accused persons through a common order.
Hence, if the HC, in granting bail to Bharadwaj, set aside the lower court order of November 6, 2019, the others too were entitled to relief.
A division bench headed by Justice S S Shinde posted the matter for further hearing on March 2.
The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the 'Elgar Parishad' conclave, held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the Maharashtra city's outskirts.
The Pune Police claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.
The NIA later took over the probe into the case.