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Bhima Koregaon case: SC dismisses bail plea of Gautam Navlakha

Activist Gautam Navlakha. File   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused bail to activist Gautam Navlakha in the Bhima Koregaon violence case.

A Bench led by Justice U.U. Lalit had reserved the case for judgment on March 26. The case was listed on Wednesday.

Justice K.M. Joseph pronounced the verdict, saying Mr. Navlakha’s period of house arrest cannot be counted as “custody” and, hence, he was not eligible for statutory bail.

The Bench had heard arguments raised by senior advocate Kapil Sibal and advocates Nitya Ramakrishnan and Shadan Farasat for grant of default bail to Mr. Navlakha under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure read with Section 43(D)(2) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Mr. Navlakha challenged the dismissal of his bail plea by the Bombay High Court on February 8. The High Court had upheld the NIA court verdict denying him bail “despite the petitioner spending more than 90 days in custody”.

“The main question that arises is whether a period of 34 days when Navlakha was in custody by way of house arrest pursuant to orders of the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court modifying transit remand order dated August 28, 2018 of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate would count as custody for the purpose of default bail,” Mr. Sibal had argued.

Mr. Navlakha was under house arrest for 34 days between August 28, 2018, and October 1, 2018 (excluding the last day).

“He was subsequently in police custody for 11 days and judicial custody for 46 days. At this point, he had completed 90 days in custody and was entitled to the indefeasible right to default bail,” Mr. Sibal had argued.

The lawyer submitted that Mr. Navlakha had applied for default bail on June 11 last year.

“It is admitted the chargesheet was not filed by the investigating agency nor was any extension for filing chargesheet sought by the Public Prosecutor... If you take all three into account, it is 93 days. We say chargesheet was filed after 90th day and thus Navlakha ought to be released on default bail,” the lawyer had argued.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches and provocative statements made by activists at the Elgar Parishad meet in Pune on December 31, 2017. The prosecution claimed that these speeches led to violence at Koregaon Bhima in the district the next day.

The police have also alleged that the event was backed by Maoist groups.


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 12:37:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/bhima-koregaon-case-sc-dismisses-bail-plea-of-gautam-navlakha/article34539998.ece

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