The Hindu – Bhima-Koregaon case: Bombay High Court extends Gautam Navlakha’s relief from arrest for three weeks

Pune police had earlier contended that activist Gautam Navlakha is a member of CPI(Maoist).

Sonam Saigal

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 13 September 2019. The Bombay High Court on Friday extended activist Gautam Navlakha’s interim relief from arrest for three weeks. Mr Navlakha has been charged with having Maoist links in the Bhima Koregaon violence.

A Division Bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre was hearing a plea filed by Mr Navlakha seeking to quash the FIR filed by Pune police against him. The court rejected the plea, but it granted a stay in order to appeal against it in the Supreme Court.

Pune police had earlier contended that activist Gautam Navlakha is a member of CPI(Maoist).

Additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai had previously said that based on the material recovered from other accused, Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling, it can be proved that Mr Navlaka had Naxal links and was in contact with terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen and Kashmir separatists.

Advocate Yug Chaudhary had also contended that simply presenting some documents in Mr Navlakha’s name does not prove that he is a “terrorist”. He went on to say that there is no evidence against him and the only available material is what was recovered from the laptops of other accused.

The Additional public prosecutor should also have included Babar Khalsa, Sikhs for Justice and Assam, Nagaland and Manipur rebel groups.
Man in Blue

The Hindu – Activists’ arrest: Chief Justice of India warns against ‘cooked-up’ proof

The apex court extends the activists’ house arrest till September 19.

Krishnadas Rajagopal

New Delhi – India, 18 September 2018. Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said on Monday that the Supreme Court will set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) if the material relied on by the Maharashtra government to raid and arrest five activists on August 28 in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case is found to be “cooked-up”.

A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice Misra, said the court could not be expected to make up its mind without seeing the material evidence in the case.

‘Criminal Procedure Code violated’

“First of all, we must have a look at the material… If we see the material and find they are cooked-up, we will definitely order the setting up of a SIT… The debate here has to be whether the Criminal Procedure Code was violated.

Wherever this court has appointed SIT, there has been grave violation,” Chief Justice Misra addressed the parties.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, for petitioners Romila Thapar and four others, submitted that the arrests had been made on the basis of “cooked-up evidence” planted in the media by the police. “We do not go by what comes in the media… Besides, in every criminal case, the allegation is the evidence is cooked-up.

Both sides [petitioners and the State] can place their materials. We will see on Wednesday (September 19),” Chief Justice Misra observed in a high-voltage hearing.

The Chief Justice said the court had primarily entertained the petition to protect the liberty of the five activists.

“We have already done that. Our interim orders to place them under house arrest at their respective homes will continue,” Chief Justice Misra observed.

The five persons under house arrest are poet Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj, and activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha.

As for the quashing of the cases against them, the Chief Justice, at one point, suggested they (accused) could continue their efforts in the competent lower courts.

The Chief Justice even mooted transferring the pending cases against the activists to one court while continuing with their house arrests. But senior advocate A M Singhvi persisted that the apex court should first hear the petitioners.

The hearing saw the Centre step in and voice its apprehensions about the problem of “naxalism” which has gripped the country.

“I (Centre) have come here because the problem of naxalism is not confined to one State, Maharashtra, but affects the entire nation. I have come here considering the overall situation in the country,” Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh submitted.

Mr Singh asked what “grievance” had compelled the petitioners to approach the Supreme Court directly.

“Is it that the police are not properly investigating the case under the CrPC or is it that they have a problem with the lower courts… Well, what is their grievance? Why did they not follow basic procedure and move the Supreme Court?” Mr Singh questioned.

He said the procedure leaves it to the competent lower court to decide as per law. “If the Supreme Court allows petitioners, who are third parties to come to the Supreme Court like this, then every case will come here,” he submitted.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for Maharashtra government, said the case and arrests are not about the “quelling of dissent as asserted by third party-petitioners here”.

“This concerns serious offences. There is material recovered from their laptops, computers, hard disks, etc. We have video-taped all our raids from the moment we knocked on their doors to recovery and seizure.

This was done to protect ourselves against future allegations of high-handedness which may be raised against our investigation done in compliance with CrPC,” Mr. Mehta submitted.

The Asian Age – Arundhati Roy, others seek action against cops for ‘vicious attack’ on activists

The statement comes a day after the Supreme Court directed that the five activists be kept under house arrest.

New Delhi – India, 30 August 2018. Leading intellectuals and civil society members on Thursday demanded action against Maharashtra police for launching a “vicious and malafide attack” against human rights activists and called for an immediate end to “such political acts of vendetta”.

The arrests of the five activists, in a nationwide crackdown on Tuesday, highlights the violation of all due procedures and is a mockery of the legal system, said a joint statement signed by author Arundhati Roy, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, as well as activists Aruna Roy and Jignesh Mevani, among others.

The statement comes a day after the Supreme Court directed that the five activists be kept under house arrest.

They have also demanded that police return the laptops and mobiles seized during the “illegal arrest” of the activists.

“They want to divert attention from real issue and discredit the Dalit movement. The so-called Maoist plot to kill the Prime Minister is an effort to garner sympathy. Dalits will hold protest rallies at various places on 5 September against the government,” Mevani said at a press conference.

“What is happening today is more dangerous than the Emergency,” Bhushan added.

Maharashtra police arrested Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, and raided the homes of several others as part of its probe into the ‘Elgar Parishad’ conclave in Koregaon-Bhima village near Pune on December 31, 2017.

Others whose premises were reportedly searched this week were Father Stan Swamy, Susan Abraham, Kranthi Tekula and Anand Teltumbde.