Justice Gavai recuses from hearing Gautam Navlakha plea

Human rights activist Gautam Navlakha (PTI Photo)

Justice B R Gavai of the Supreme Court recused himself Tuesday from hearing a plea filed by civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha, challenging the Bombay High Court order that refused to quash an FIR lodged against him in the Koregaon-Bhima violence case.

Justice Gavai's recusal came a day after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had recused himself from hearing Navlakha's plea.

Navlakha's appeal came up for hearing on Tuesday before a bench comprising justices N V Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai.

The apex court said his plea would come up for hearing before another bench on October 3.

The Maharashtra government had earlier filed a caveat in the matter seeking to be heard before any orders are passed.

On September 13, the high court had refused to quash the FIR lodged against him in the 2017 Koregaon-Bhima case and for having alleged Maoist links, noting that there was prima facie substance in the case.

The high court had said, "Considering the magnitude of the case, we feel a thorough investigation is required".

The high court had however extended the protection from arrest to Navlakha for a period of three weeks to enable him to approach the Supreme Court to file an appeal against its order.

The FIR was lodged against Navlakha and others by the Pune Police in January 2018 after the Elgar Parishad held on December 31, 2017 that had allegedly triggered violence at Koregaon Bhima in Pune district the next day.

The police has also alleged that Navlakha and other accused in the case had Maoist links and were working towards overthrowing the government.

Navlakha and the other accused were booked under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code.

Besides Navlakha, four others -- Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj, are accused in the case. 

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