Bhima-Koregaon case: Bombay HC declines relief to Navlakha

Mumbai:The Bombay High Court on Friday rejected a plea by New Delhi-based civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha to quash the FIR filed against him early last year by Pune police for his alleged Maoist links and involvement in Bhima-Koregaon Bhima and Elgar Parishad case.

“Considering the magnitude of the conspiracy, we feel the investigating agencies need to be given time to unearth the evidencea – thorough investigation is required. The case is not without basis and absence of material, and not restricted to the Bhima-Koregaon incident but subsequent activities also,” a division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati Dange said.

However, accepting a plea by his lawyer, Yug Choudhary, the court extended the interim relief by three weeks, granted to Navlakha earlier in the Elgar Parishad case, to ensure that the police don’t take coercive action against him, and also enable him approach the Supreme Court for relief.

Navlakha, along with nine other prominent human rights and civil liberties activists were arrested in the case so far by Pune Police from different parts of India, for their role in the December 31, 2017 Elgar Parishad held in Pune, which served as a trigger for the caste riots in Bhima-Koregaon on January 1, 2018.

They include Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale (in the first phase of action), P. Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Fereira (in the second crackdown), and charge sheeted.

Among other things, they were charged with alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoist, a conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi and to overthrow the elected government.