SC extends protection from arrest to activist Navlakha

 Human rights activist Gautam Navlakha. PTI file photo

The Supreme Court on Friday extended protection from arrest granted to activist Gautam Navlakha in Bhima Koregaon case, for further four weeks to enable him to approach the court concerned for pre-arrest bail in the FIR lodged under stringent the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

After going through the materials presented by the Pune police in sealed envelop, a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta declined to consider his plea for quashing of the FIR.

“It is not proper to quash the case at this stage. On merit, it can be done only when the investigation is over. It is pre-mature to say if the offence is made out or not,” the bench said.

“There are some correspondences on which they want to interrogate,” the bench told senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the petitioner.

The top court also pointed out the Union government's review petition against the Supreme Court's 2011 judgement in the case of Anup Bhuyan, which stated that mere membership of a banned terrorist organisation would not be an offence unless supported by the violence or incitement for it, was still pending before a larger bench.

“It would be hazardous to decide your case when a review petition is pending before the larger bench,” the bench told Singhvi.

The court, however, accepted his plea to extend the protection granted to Navlakha, in terms of an order passed on January 14, 2019 in case of another civil rights activist Anand Teltumbde in the same case.

When Maharashtra government's counsel Nishant R Katneshwarkar opposed it, the court asked him why the police did not interrogate him till now.

Navlakha, in his special leave petition, challenged the validity of the Bombay High Court's order of September 13 that had declined to quash the FIR.

He said he had got protection from arrest for more than 18 months.
 

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