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HC: Explain why you kept ‘War and Peace’ at home

August 29, 2019 05:31 AM

courtesy  TOI AUG 29

HC: Explain why you kept ‘War and Peace’ at home
TNN & Agencies


The Bombay high court on Wednesday asked Elgar Parishad case accused Vernon Gonsalves to explain why he had kept a copy of Leo Tolstoy’s classic ‘War and Peace’ and other books and CDs at his home.

Justice Sarang Kotwal, hearing the bail plea of Gonsalves and two others, arrested under the stringent antiterror law—the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)—for having Maoist links, also said that “such books” and CDs prima facie indicated they contained some material against the State.

The court’s remarks came when Pune police, probing the case, claimed that the book was part of the “highly incriminating evidence” they had seized from Gonsalves’s house in Mumbai during raids conducted a year ago.

The judge read out titles of many other books and CDs which Pune police said they had recovered—‘Rajya Daman Virodhi’, ‘Marxist Archives’, ‘Jai Bhim Comrade’ and ‘Understanding Maoists’.

‘These books don’t make him a Maoist’

The title of the CD ‘Rajya Daman Virodhi’ itself suggests it has something against the State while 'War and Peace' is about a war in another country. Why were you (Gonsalves) having these books and CDs at home? You will have to explain this to the court,” Justice Kotwal told senior counsel Mihir Desai, who is appearing for Gonsalves. Desai argued that there was no incriminating evidence to justify his arrest. “Just because he has (these) books does not make him an active member of a Maoist organisation,’’ he said.

Justice Kotwal also recorded a statement by additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai that “nothing incriminating’’ was found in all electronic devices including computers recovered from Gonsalves.

But Pai also said that books, pamphlets and CDs with objectionable content and titles were recovered from a search conducted at Gonsalves’s house. The judge then asked her, “Why are the contents of the CDs not on the chargesheet? Because the name may be anything but it may blank inside.’’ He added, “Why is the content on the CD not on record on the chargesheet?’’ “Merely stating that they have objectionable titles is not enough. You should have had explained about material you are relying on to incriminate an accused in the chargesheet and mention details about what is objectionable in that material,” Justice Kotwal observed. To this Pai said that it would be difficult to put all details on record since there are thousands of CD recovered —in the entire case from all the accused, not just from Gonsalves.

The judge also said that, “If the prosecution fails to place on record the content of the material, it will have to ignore them’’. Pai will begin her arguments to oppose his bail plea after Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Sudha Bharadwaj—finish their arguments.

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