THE SUPREME Court Monday set aside a Delhi High Court order of May 27 asking the NIA to produce records of judicial proceedings before special courts in Delhi and Mumbai on the transfer of Bhima Koregaon case accused Gautam Navlakha from the National Capital.
An apex court Bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, also termed the proceedings before the High Court as “totally uncalled for” and expunged remarks made by the Single Judge Bench, Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani, against the NIA in the matter.
The High Court, in its order, observed that prima facie it appeared that the NIA showed “unseemly haste” and “frantic hurry” in “whisking away” Navlakha to Mumbai while his bail application was pending before it. The order was stayed by the Supreme Court on June 2.
On Monday, allowing an NIA appeal against the order, the Supreme Court Bench, also comprising Justice Navin Sinha, wondered how the Delhi High Court could have sought the production of the affidavit detailing proceedings before the NIA’s Special Court in Mumbai.
The Bench expressed displeasure at the accused moving the High Court for interim bail when the Supreme Court had already dismissed his plea for anticipatory bail and asked him to surrender.
“In case any modification of the order…was required, it was incumbent upon the respondent to apply to this court, which he did not do… thus, the entire exercise taken by the High Court of Delhi was totally uncalled for as the spirit of our order is apparent,” the Bench said.
“The High Court of Delhi should not have entertained the application at the threshold…It is the courts at Bombay alone, having the jurisdiction, which can entertain the application,” the Bench ordered.
In its plea, the NIA said the High Court’s observation against the NIA was “unwarranted”, “against the record of the case”, and “startling”.
Appearing for the NIA, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that “at the time of Navlakha’s surrender (on April 14), the country was under lockdown. The Special Judge (in Mumbai) was pleased to pass the order for (Navlakha’s) transfer (to Mumbai) following our arguments.”
Mehta said the transfer was brought to the notice of the Delhi High Court, and Navlakha was taken as soon as possible to Mumbai where the accused’s presence was required in light of fresh evidence. When Navlakha moved the Delhi High Court for interim bail, Mehta said, the prosecution had informed that all other accused are in Mumbai.
“We took him after a judicial order, which was a production warrant by the Special Court of Mumbai,” said Mehta, adding the Delhi High Court could not have exercised jurisdiction thereafter.
Appearing for Navlakha, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal contended the High Court had not granted relief but merely called for records of circumstances leading to the transfer to Mumbai. Sibal said the prosecution had not brought up the issue of jurisdiction before the High Court.
After the Supreme Court said it was allowing the NIA appeal, it also allowed a request from Mehta to expunge the remarks made against the Agency by the High Court.
Navlakha is facing charges under the UAPA for alleged Maoist links following the violence in Bhima Koregaon. He was lodged in Tihar jail after the surrender, and was shifted to Mumbai on May 25.
Navlakha and others were booked for alleged Maoist links and other charges following the violence at Koregaon Bhima village on January 1, 2018. All the accused have denied the allegations.