Relief for Activist Gautam Navlakha as Supreme Court Stays Arrest Till October 15 in Bhima-Koregaon Case
An FIR was lodged against Navlakha and four others in January 2018 after the Elgar Parishad held on December 31, 2017, that had allegedly triggered violence at Koregaon Bhima in Pune district the next day.
File photo of activist Gautam Navlakha.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday gave social activist Gautam Navlakha interim protection from arrest till October 15 in the Bhima-Koregaon case and asked the Maharashtra police to produce relevant documents related to his case.
The apex court directed the Maharashtra government to place before it the material collected during the ongoing investigation against Navlakha in connection with the case.
While agreeing to hear Navlakha's plea challenging the Bombay high court order refusing to quash the FIR lodged against him, a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta said that it would hear the arguments on October 15.
An FIR was lodged against Navlakha and four others — Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj — by the Pune Police in January 2018 after the Elgar Parishad held on December 31, 2017, that had allegedly triggered violence at Koregaon Bhima in Pune district the next day.
The police has also alleged that Navlakha and other accused in the case had Maoist links and were working towards overthrowing the government. The accused were booked under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code.
In court, Navlakha said he did not belong to any banned organisation and had “raised only issues of civil rights”. He added, “The entire case is based on documents and statements by co-accused.”
The Maharashtra government had earlier filed a caveat in the matter seeking to be heard before any orders are passed. On September 13, the high court had refused to quash the FIR lodged against him in the 2017 Koregaon-Bhima case and for having alleged Maoist links, noting that there was prima facie substance in the case.
The high court had said, "Considering the magnitude of the case, we feel a thorough investigation is required". The high court had, however, extended the protection from arrest to Navlakha for a period of three weeks to enable him to approach the Supreme Court to file an appeal against its order.
On Thursday, Justice S Ravindra Bhat became the fifth apex court judge to recuse himself from hearing a plea filed by the civil rights activist. On September 30, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had recused himself from hearing Navlakha's plea. Later on October 1, the three judges of a bench — justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai — had also recused themselves from hearing the matter.
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