Gautam Navlakha’s anticipatory bail in Elgar Parishad case rejected by Pune court
A court in Pune, on Tuesday, rejected the anticipatory bail application of journalist and activist Gautam Navlakha in the Elgar Parishad case .
Navlakha’s legal representatives subsequently approached the same court for an extension of interim protection by three days, i.e till November 15. The argument on that was heard on Tuesday itself and was rejected by the judge.
The decisions have been taken by Additional Sessions Judge SR Navandar. On Tuesday, while Navlakha was represented by Advocate Rohini Ahuja, the assistant district government pleader Vilas Pathare was the public prosecutor present in court.
While the extension for interim protection was sought in order to provide an interval for Navlakha to approach the Bombay High Court, Pathare submitted in his answer to the extension application that, “Investigation authorities have suffered a lot due to the interim protection granted to him (Navlakha) by one of the courts”.
Therefore, minutes after rejecting the anticipatory bail application, the same judge rejected extension of interim protection. This leaves the police free to arrest Navlakha.
Navlakha has enjoyed interim protection for over a year in the case, granted by the Bombay High Court (HC) as well as the Supreme Court (SC).
Navlakha had approached HC with an application to quash the FIR against him in the Elgar Parishad case. However, the court rejected his application. Navlakha then went to the SC against the HC order.
The SC asked Navlakha to seek anticipatory bail while observing that quashing of the FIR during this stage of the investigation would not be right. However, the SC granted him four weeks of interim protection, that ends on Tuesday, November 12.
Subsequently, as Navlakha went to the HC seeking anticipatory bail, the HC had directed him to approach the Sessions court on November 4. On November 5, an application seeking anticipatory bail was brought to the special court and heard on November 7. The decision in the matter was reserved until Tuesday, while the judge asked the police not to take coercive action against Navlakha.
Besides the contents of the documents seized in a nation-wise crackdown by Pune police in 2018, the judge considered the Supreme Court order in the case against Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and a statement by surrendered Naxal called Pahad Singh alias Kumarsai, while passing the judgement.
“From the observations recorded as above, it is clear that there is prima facie sufficient material to show that the applicant is not only a member of the banned organisation, but also an active leader as noted above,” read the order.
Ending the year-long interim protection to Navlakha, the judge observed, “Unless the applicant (Navlakha) is taken in custody and interrogated thoroughly it is not possible to go to the root of the case and to trace out the different links which have been traced in the letter communication of the members of the banned organisation (CPI(M)).”
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