Gadchiroli blast case: NIA to oppose Naxal leader's bail plea in Bombay High Court

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will oppose the bail plea of the Gadchiroli blast accused Naxal leader in the Bombay High Court.

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File photo of the Bombay High Court.

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday said that it will hear arguments from the National Investigating Agency (NIA) on the bail plea of Sathyanarayana Rani, the husband of alleged Naxal agent Nirmala Uppuganti, on June 15.

Rani and Uppuganti were arrested in connection with the IED blast in Gadchiroli in 2019, which killed 16 people, including 15 security personnel from the quick response team.

Uppuganti was suffering from a number of ailments, including cancer, when she was arrested by the Gadchiroli Police and imprisoned. She was later shifted to a hospice care centre in Mumbai in September 2021. Uppuganti died in April of this year, while Rani, a co-accused in the case, is currently being held at Arthur Road jail.

Rani is facing charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (punishment for murder), and the Explosive Substances Act, and has sought to be released on bail pending trial. His bail plea was earlier rejected by the Mumbai sessions court on August 20, 2021.

Rani's lawyers, Yug Mohit Chaudhry and Payoshi Roy, argued before the bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and VG Bisht that there was no incriminating evidence against him and that the NIA had no "material on record" against him.

Roy contended that the central agency only had electronic evidence, which included speech clippings from Uppunganti, and that Rani had no role in those speeches.

Rani's lawyers further argued that he had been in custody as an undertrial prisoner for over three years and deserved to be released on bail pending trial.

On April 28, the court reviewed Rani's health status report, which stated that there were no new complaints and that he had pain in his knee and hip joints, for which pain killer medications were provided to him through the prison hospital following an examination by the Arthur Road jail's medical officer. The court also mentioned that he had been given soft slippers, knee caps, and a walking stick.

The NIA, on the other hand, stated that Rani was present at numerous conspiratorial meetings where the attack on police officers was planned.

Aruna Pai, the Maharashtra government's chief public prosecutor who also appears for the NIA on occasion, will argue the agency's case on June 15.