The Supreme Court Tuesday extended the interim protection from arrest granted to civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha by four weeks in the Bhima Koregaon violence case. The apex court has now asked the activist to approach the concerned court for seeking pre-arrest bail in the case.
When the counsel, appearing for Maharashtra government, objected to the grant of further interim protection to Navlakha, the bench questioned the state as to why they had not interrogated him for over a year, reported PTI.
Several activists were arrested after speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on December 31, 2017, which was allegedly funded by Maoists, “aggravated” the violence near Koregaon Bhima war memorial in Pune district the next day.
The top court had earlier also extended the interim protection from arrest to Navlakha. On October 4, the court directed the Maharashtra government to produce the material it had collected against him while investigating the FIR naming him, among others, for the violence that took place in Pune last year.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta had said the matter required detailed hearing. It fixed October 15 for hearing Navlakha’s petition challenging the Bombay High Court’s rejection of his plea to quash the FIR. It said the protection granted to him by the Bombay High Court will continue till then, although this was opposed by advocate Nishant Katneshwarkar who appeared for Maharashtra.
Navlakha’s petition had come up before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on September 30. The CJI recused without ascribing any reason. It was listed the next day before the bench of Justices N V Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai. All three judges recused, following which it was listed for October 3 before the bench headed by Justice Mishra.
The Elgar conclave was held on December 31, 2017 to mark bicentennial anniversary of the 1818 battle of Koregaon Bhima, in which Dalit soldiers of the East India Company defeated the army of the Brahmin Peshwa, Pune’s then ruler. Dalits look upon the victory as an assertion of their identity.
-With PTI & ENS inputs