The Delhi High Court stayed until Wednesday the transit remand for civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha, one of the five arrested by Pune police, observing that police have not been able to “satisfactorily” explain the offence he had been arrested for.
A decision on a transit remand for lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj, also among the arrested, was awaited late Tuesday night with her lawyers making their arguments in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Faridabad.
Earlier, Bharadwaj told the court that she had nothing to do with the incident for which she had been arrested. The FIR, she said, did not even name her and she was being harassed and arrested only because of her “ideology”.
In the Delhi High Court, the bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel directed that Navlakha be kept under police guard at the same place from where he was picked up, and not be allowed to contact any person other than his lawyer.
The bench questioned how Pune police managed to get a transit remand from a Delhi court without any local witness. The bench directed that translations of the police documents in Marathi be produced before it by Wednesday.
Shortly after his arrest, Navlakha was produced in a Saket court which allowed police to take him away and present him before a Pune court before August 30. The High Court wondered how a person arrested at 2.15 pm could be produced in court so quickly and a transit remand obtained. It also questioned how the FIR, lodged in Marathi, was read out to the lower court judge.
As a biographer of Gandhi, I have no doubt that if the Mahatma was alive today, he would don his lawyer’s robes and defend Sudha Bharadwaj in court; that is assuming the Modi Sarkar hadn’t yet detained and arrested him too
— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) August 28, 2018
In Bharadwaj’s case, her lawyers were waging a court room battle. In a habeas corpus plea before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, they said that certain documents given to the detainee were in Marathi, a language that she and her lawyers did not know. They sought relief on the same lines of the Delhi High Court order in Navlakha’s case.
In an order late evening, Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan said that in case the police produce Bharadwaj before a magistrate for her transit remand, the order for it will be passed only after going through the contents of the FIR and recording the finding that relevant provisions of law have been complied with by police.
He directed that until the magistrate concerned passed the order, Bharadwaj will be kept at her home from where from she was arrested. The Haryana Advocate General was directed by the High Court to communicate the order to the authorities for compliance.
Ever since the Bhima Koregoan violence against Dalits, the Maharashtra Police along with central agencies have been targeting dalit rights activists and lawyers who have been taking up their cases. This is a brazen attack on democratic rights & civil liberties. pic.twitter.com/rqW3XzQEcx
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) August 28, 2018
“It is directed that in case the detenue is produced before the concerned Ilaqa Magistrate/Duty Magistrate/Chief Judicial Magistrate, Faridabad, the order granting transit remand will be passed after going through the contents of the FIR and recording a finding that the provisions of Sections 41 and 50 of the Criminal Procedure Code have been compiled with,” Justice Sangwan said while adjourning the case for August 31.