HC halts hearing Navlakha's plea till SC directive

Human rights activist Gautam Navlakha at his residence after he was arrested by the Pune police in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence, in New Delhi on Tuesday, Aug 28, 2018. (PTI Photo)

The Delhi High Court on Thursday said it will not proceed with the hearing of the plea against the arrest of rights activist Gautam Navlakha till further orders from the Supreme Court, which had yesterday directed that all the five activists, arrested on August 28, be kept under house arrest till September 6.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel said it would not be appropriate to proceed further in the matter in view of the apex court's order, which was placed before it today, and listed the plea against Navlakha's arrest on September 14.

It also said that all the documents, after translating them from Marathi, be provided to the petitioner's lawyers by then.

Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, appearing for the activist, said the top court has not gone into the issue of transit remand, nor interdicted the proceedings in the high court and hence, the bench can proceed with examining the legality of the transit order issued by the magisterial court on August 28 for taking Navlakha to Pune.

Maharashtra Police wanted to take the activist to a Pune court in connection with a case relating to the Bhima-Koregaon violence of December last year.

The court did not agree with Ramakrishnan and said any order it passes "would be a complete contradiction" to the apex court's decision.

The bench had yesterday questioned the Maharashtra Police for not providing all documents, translated from Marathi, to the court as well as Navlakha, who was arrested for alleged unlawful activities, saying "every minute of a person put into custody is a matter of concern."

It had also said that it "will examine the legality" of the state police's action to arrest Navlakha and the transit remand order passed by a magisterial court here.

But yesterday's proceedings had taken a turn when the bench, which was in the middle of dictating the order, was informed by the Maharashtra Police counsel that the apex court has stayed the transit remand orders of all the five arrested activists, including Navlakha, and directed that all of them would be kept under house arrest till September 6.

The high court had then stopped the proceedings and said it will proceed further after perusing the Supreme Court order.

The Maharashtra Police wanted to arrest Navlakha and take him to Pune in connection with an FIR lodged there following an event -- 'Elgaar Parishad' (conclave) -- held on December 31 last year that had triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village.

During over one-and-a half-hour-long hearing yesterday, the high court bench had questioned the legality of the transit order, saying it was apparent that the magistrate could not have applied its mind.

If the state police could not complete translation of Marathi documents, how could the trial court pass the transit remand order within a few minutes, it had said, adding "the practical issue is, if the court could not understand what is there in the documents, how could the remand order be passed."

"Without translated documents, how could the magisterial court have applied its mind to issue transit remand order," it had asked.

The bench had also said that "even if all other arrests in the matter are valid, it would not lend validity to this arrest" of Navlakha.

Navlakha was arrested on August 28 after searches in several cities and the arrest of five activists, including him. A transit remand was also secured from Saket district court in South Delhi to take him to Pune. This order was later stayed by the high court. 

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HC halts hearing Navlakha's plea till SC directive

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