A Bombay High Court bench on Wednesday recused itself from hearing two separate petitions filed by former Delhi University professor Hany Babu and human rights activist Gautam Navlakha, both accused in the Elgar Parishad case, PTI reported.

The case pertains to caste violence in a village near Pune in 2018. As many as 16 people were arrested for allegedly plotting the violence. While Navlakha was arrested on August 28, 2018, Babu was held in July 2020 from New Delhi.

On Wednesday, a bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and VG Bisht was hearing a bail application filed by Babu.

Babu’s counsels Yug Chaudhry and Payoshi Roy submitted that the purported letter cited by the National Investigating Agency alleging a conspiracy to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not incriminate their client, PTI reported.

In February last year, a United States-based digital forensics company, Arsenal Consulting, had stated that a hacker had used malware to infiltrate co-accused Rona Wilson’s laptop and deposited at least 10 incriminating letters on it. These included a purported letter to a Maoist militant discussing the need for guns and ammunition, and even urging the banned group to assassinate Modi.

Babu said that the letter was neither written by him nor was it addressed to him, and that he was not part of the alleged conspiracy.

He had filed the bail plea before the High Court’s vacation bench last month. But he was directed to submit his plea before a regular bench. On Wednesday, Justices Mohite Dere and Bisht recused themselves from hearing the plea, without citing any reason, PTI reported.

Meanwhile, a plea filed by Navlakha also came up before the same bench on Wednesday. In his petition, Navlakha sought access to phone calls at Navi Mumbai’s Taloja prison, among other things.

The 71-year-old has been lodged in the high-security barrack called the “anda cell” since October.

But Mohite Dere recused herself from hearing the matter, reported The Indian Express.

With the bench’s recusal from hearing the petitions, Babu and Navlakha will have to either approach an alternate bench or request the chief justice to assign a new bench.