PUNE, MAHARASHTRA (IANS) — In a huge embarrassment for Maharashtra government, a Pune Special Court on Saturday slammed the city police Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) for what it termed as “illegal arrest” of Dalit intellectual Prof Anand Teltumbde, and ordered his immediate release — barely 12 hours after he was arrested at Mumbai airport.
Pune Special Judge K.D. Vadane rejected arguments by the prosecution and ruled that Teltumbde’s arrest was not only “illegal” but also “amounts to a contempt of order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court” which had granted protection from arrest to the professor for four weeks till February 11.
When asked what was the haste to arrest Teltumbde in an early morning operation from Mumbai, Pune Joint Police Commissioner Shivajirao Bodke guardedly said: “It was done are per procedures.”
“We respect the honourable court’s orders in this matter today (Saturday). Now any further step will be initiated only after the verdict of the competent court which he (Teltumbde) may approach for relief,” Bodke told IANS shortly after the ruling.
Special Judge Vadane also directed that after releasing Teltumbde, the Supreme Court should be informed of the same since the arrest by the Pune police was against the order of the apex court.
The court pointed out that the apex court order clearly stated: “We extend the said interim protection for a period of four weeks…, within which the petitioner (Teltumbde) may seek regular/ pre-arrest bail from the competent authority, if so advised.”
Special Judge Vadane observed that “this means trial court, high court and Supreme Court also”, and hence, although his anticipatory bail application was rejected by (this) court on February 1, Teltumbde still had the liberty to approach the higher courts within the stipulated four-week period.
It was around 3.45 a.m on Saturday when a waiting team of Pune police accosted and arrested Teltumbde from the domestic terminal of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) when he landed here from Kerala.
Teltumbde, who teaches at the Goa Institute of Management, had earlier filed for anticipatory bail before Special Judge Vadane, but it was rejected on Friday, paving way for the police action.
Later, after completing certain post-arrest formalities in Mumbai, he was whisked off to Pune and produced before the court.
In the court, his lawyer Rohan Nahar moved an application demanding action against the Pune ATS for contempt of Supreme Court by the illegal arrest, since the apex court had granted him protection till February 11, and strongly argued for his immediate release.
Teltumbde has been charged of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and also with the Elgaar Parishad, which allegedly triggered the January 1, 2018 caste riots and violence in Koregaon-Bhima in Pune.
Opposing his anticipatory bail plea, the Pune police had submitted evidences in a sealed envelope, claiming him to be an alleged “urban Maoist” against which the law enforcers have launched a major offensive for the past one year.