The Supreme Court on Friday gave interim protection from arrest to Gautam Navlakha on the social activist’s plea seeking quashing of FIR against him in the Bhima-Koregaon case and asked the Maharashtra government to produce relevant documents related to the case.
Three week protection given to Navlakha by the Bombay High Court was expiring today. The case was heard by the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta after five judges, Including the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, recused themselves from hearing the matter.
Earlier, on October 3 Justice S Ravindra Bhat the fifth apex court judge to recuse himself from hearing the matter when it came up for hearing before a three-judge bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Sharan and S Ravindra Bhat. On October 1, a three-judge bench of Justices NV Ramana, BR Gavai and R Subhash Reddy had recused itself from hearing Navlakha’s plea.
Navalakha’s petition is against the Bombay High Court’s judgement, in which division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati Dangre had on September 13 rejected Navlakha’s plea seeking to quash the FIR filed against him, observing that there was prima facie material against Navlakha.
Last year the Pune Police claimed that they have enough material to establish ‘deep involvement’ of the 65-year-old activist in the Bhima-Koregaon and Elgar Parishad cases, allegedly linking him to Maoist conspiracy.
The Maharashtra government also filed a caveat in the Supreme Court anticipating Navlakha’s appeal against the High Court’s order which the court cannot pass an order without hearing the other side.
Navlakha and nine activists including Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj were arrested by the Pune police from different parts of India, for their role in Pune’s December 31, 2017 Elgar Parishad gathering that served as a trigger for the caste riots in Bhima-Koregaon the next day, where one person died in the violence.
These activists are accused of having alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoist and hatching a conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as to overthrow the elected government and booked under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Navlakha said in court that he doesn’t belong to any banned organisation and had “raised only issues of civil rights”.