SC extends protection from arrest to Navalakha

Having ideological belief does not mean secession activity: Petitioner to SC

The Supreme Court on Friday directed that protection from arrest granted to activist Gautam Navalakha in Bhima Koregaon case would continue till October 15.

Navalakha claimed that he has an ideological belief as PUDR activist which may not match with the people sitting in a drawing room in Delhi and that does not mean he was involved secession activity or disaffection towards the country.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta asked the Maharashtra government counsel to produce the materials against the petitioner on October 15, the next date of hearing.

"What are the materials that you have collected," the bench asked Nishant R Katneshwarkar.

During the hearing, senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Navalakha, contended that the petitioner had got protection from arrest for the last 18 months in the FIR lodged in January 2018.

"I have categorically spoken against violence. I have, in fact, been used as a channel by the government to negotiate with Maoists in 2011. I am secretary of PUDR, it is my job raise voice for civil rights. We condemn atrocities on Maoists as well as killings of security personnel," he said.

Singhvi said, the top court should lay guidelines with regard to persons accused of being a member of banned organisations. He said since a matter related to the validity of transit remand was pending, his instant petition should also be considered along with it.

After hearing the matter for over one hour, the bench passed the order stating that the Bombay High Court's order granting protection to Navalakha which was ending on Friday would be extended as an interim measure.

The matter was heard after the recusal of as many as five judges.

Navalakha, in his special leave petition, challenged the validity of the Bombay High Court's order of September 13 that had declined to quash an FIR lodged against him and others, early last year by the Pune police for his alleged Maoist links and involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence.

He was being investigated for his alleged role in Elgar Parishad held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which allegedly led to caste violence on January 1, 2018.

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