Bhima-Koregaon violence: HC rejects Navlakha’s petition to quash FIR
The court has, however, stayed the operation of the order for three weeks, to enable the activist to approach the Supreme Court (SC), and also extended interim protection from coercive action for the same period.Updated: Sep 14, 2019 00:47 IST
In a setback for activist Gautam Navlakha, the Bombay high court (HC) on Friday held that prima facie the investigation against Navlakha in the Bhima-Koregaon and Elgar Parishad cases had substance. The court said it did not find a need to interfere and hence was rejecting a petition that sought the quashing of the first information report (FIR) against Navlakha.
The court has, however, stayed the operation of the order for three weeks, to enable the activist to approach the Supreme Court (SC), and also extended interim protection from coercive action for the same period.
A division bench of justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre had been informed by advocate Yug Choudhary, representing Navlakha, that the Pune Police had nothing to incriminate his client and that the FIR against him was filed based on letters from other co-accused to him, which were recovered from his laptop. Choudhary had submitted that the letters did not have any material that would implicate his client in the Elgar Parishad conclave, which allegedly triggered the Bhima-Koregaon violence.
Choudhary had further submitted that Navlakha was a peace activist and had also acted as a mediator for the government to secure the release of policemen kidnapped by Maoists. In light of these submissions, Choudhary said the police did not have any substantial evidence against Navlakha, and hence the FIR registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act should be quashed.
However, additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai argued that apart from the letters recovered from Navlakha, the police had recovered other documents, wherein he had been in touch with banned terrorist organisations like Hizbul Mujahideen and hence he was guilty of conspiring against the nation and that the FIR was valid. She had submitted some documents in a sealed envelope to fortify her arguments.
“Considering the magnitude of the conspiracy, in our opinion, the investigating agency is required to be given sufficient time to unearth evidence against the petitioner, especially when the scope of investigation is not restricted to the Bhima-Koregaon incident, but activities leading to the incident and subsequent activities as well, are the subject matter of investigation,” observed the bench.On the request of Choudhary, the bench stayed the operation of the order for three weeks and also extended protection against coercive action for the same period.