Judges Ramana, Reddy did not recuse from Navlakha case

Only Justice B.R. Gavai, the third member on the Bench before which the case came up on October 1, had recused, say Supreme Court Registry sources

Justices N.V. Ramana and R. Subhash Reddy did not recuse themselves from hearing an appeal filed by activist Gautam P. Navlakha to quash the FIR against him in the Bhima Koregaon case, according to sources in the Supreme Court Registry. On that day, they had been part of a three-judge Bench hearing Kashmir-related petitions, the sources said.

Only Justice B.R. Gavai, the third member on the Bench, before which the case came up on October 1, had recused, the sources said.

A Bench of the three Judges was on the day specially constituted to hear a batch of petitions challenging the Jammu and Kashmir lockdown.

“Mr. Navlakha's case was to be heard urgently. The plea was listed on that day before a Special Bench specifically constituted for hearing the Kashmir matters,” a highly-placed source said.

It had been reported that five judges of the Supreme Court had recused from hearing the Navlakha case.

On September 30, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi withdrew from the case. The CJI, lawyers in the case said, may have recused himself from the case because of the paucity of time. The CJI, who is retiring on November 17, wants to entirely focus on the Ayodhya appeals. He heads the Constitution Bench, which is hearing the appeals all day from Monday to Friday.

The case then came up for hearing on October 1 before the Bench of Justices Ramana, Reddy and Gavai. Though the expression of reluctance to hear the case seems to have come from Justice Gavai in the courtroom, the court’s order, published later on that day, had shown that all the three judges had recused.

The case was transferred to another Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and . S. Ravindra Bhat. But Justice Bhat, the third judge, chose to recuse on October 3.

The case was then listed for the fourth time on October 4. This time it was listed before a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta.

Mr. Navlakha had moved the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court decision to reject his plea to quash the FIR against him in the Bhima Koregaon case.

On September 13, the High Court granted him protection from arrest for two weeks to approach the Supreme Court in appeal.

The FIR filed by the Pune Police accuses Mr. Navlakha of links with naxal groups.

Poet Vara Vara Rao; lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj; and activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Mr. Navlakha were arrested by the police as part of a pan-India crackdown and raids.

In September 2018, a majority judgment of the Supreme Court held that the arrests were not an attempt to silence dissenting voices in the country. It had given the go-ahead to the Maharashtra police to pursue the case against the five activists under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act but allowed the house arrests of the five to continue for four weeks. In October, the court dismissed a review petition.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 11:18:49 AM |

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