The Delhi High Court on Monday ended the house arrest of Gautam Navlakha, one of five rights activists under house arrest in the Bhima Koregaon case, saying his detention had exceeded 24 hours which is “untenable”. The development comes days after the Supreme Court, while extending the house arrest of Navlakha and others by four weeks, said the accused could seek legal recourse in an appropriate court.
Following Delhi High court’s order for his release, Navlakha said, “From Delhi High Court I have won my freedom and it thrills me no end”
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Justice Vinod Goel held that the case diary relating to Navlakha’s arrest was in ‘Marathi’ and that it was nobody’s case that the trial court judge was well conversant in ‘Marathi’.
The bench also criticised the trial court for not looking into the material for grant of transit remand, saying Navlakha’s case was dealt in a cosmetic manner.
It also held that Navlakha was never made aware of the ground of his arrest, nor given any prior notice about the same. The court did not accede to the request made by the Maharashtra police counsel for extension of the house arrest by another two days.
The Pune police had arrested Navlakha from Delhi last month following searches in several cities. A transit remand was also secured from Saket district court in South Delhi to take him to Pune. The high court Monday also set aside Navlakha’s transit remand.
Apart from Navlakha, four other activists- Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj were also arrested from different parts of the country on August 28. The following day, on August 29, the activists were put under house arrest backing an apex court order on the plea by historian Romila Thapar, economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devaki Jain, sociology professor Satish Deshpande and human rights lawyer Maja Daruwala against the police action.
The high court further questioned the Maharashtra government over the arrest of Navlakha and said it will examine the legality of the state police’s action to arrest him and the transit remand order to take him to a Pune court.
The Maharashtra Police wanted to take Navlakha to Pune in connection with an FIR lodged there following an event — ‘Elgaar Parishad’ (conclave) — held on December 31 last year that had triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village.
(With PTI inputs)