The Delhi High Court asked on Wednesday why arrest documents in Marathi were not translated for activist Gautam Navlakha, who does not understand the language, Live Law reported. Navlakha was put under house arrest on Tuesday after the High Court stayed his transit remand to Pune.
A two-judge bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel noted that people accompanying the police from Maharashtra were made witnesses of Navlakha’s arrest, instead of locals. The court was hearing a habeas corpus plea filed by Navlakha’s advocate after the Pune Police detained him on Tuesday.
“A witness should either be family members or respectable members of the locality, it can’t be someone who accompanies the police,” Muralidhar said.
Appearing for the Maharashtra Police, Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi said all efforts were made to make Navlakha understand the grounds of arrest.
The judges said they will examine the validity of both the arrest and the transit remand order issued by a magistrate – which the court had stayed on Tuesday. Lekhi said the documents were translated orally for the magistrate.
As the court was about to issue its verdict on the transit remand, the Supreme Court, in a separate hearing, stayed the arrests of the activists. The top court issued a notice to Maharashtra government and said the accused will remain under house arrest. After the Supreme Court’s order, the Delhi High Court said it was not appropriate to proceed forward with its verdict, Bar and Bench reported.
Earlier in the day, Navlakha accused the government of “shielding the real culprits” of the violence in Bhima Koregaon earlier this year. In a statement, he called his arrest a “ploy against political dissent” by a “vindictive and cowardly government”.
“A political trial must be fought politically and I welcome this opportunity,” Navlakha said. “I have to do nothing. It is for the Maharashtra Police, working at the behest of their political masters, to prove their case against me and my comrades...”
Navlakha was among the several activists whose houses were raided by the Pune Police on Tuesday morning in Mumbai, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Delhi, Faridabad and Goa. The raids were in connection with investigations into a public meeting organised before caste-related violence erupted at Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1.
By Tuesday evening, the police confirmed the arrests of five activists – Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, Gautam Navlakha in New Delhi, Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad, Varavara Rao in Hyderabad.
Scroll.in has reviewed the search warrants, which cite sections of the anti-terrorism law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and sections of the Indian Penal Code relating to the offence of promoting enmity between groups. The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the chief secretary and director general of police of Maharashtra over the arrests.