The Delhi High Court on Monday ordered the release of activist Gautam Navlakha, who was arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case on August 28, ANI reported. The court said his detention was untenable by law and ended his house arrest immediately. The judge also set aside the transit remand ordered by a court in the city’s Saket locality against Navlakha.
The High Court also rejected the Maharashtra Police’s petition to extend Navlakha’s house arrest by at least two days.
The activist said he was thrilled by the court’s order and thanked his legal team. “I wish to thank the majority and dissenting Justices of the Supreme Court for their judgement, which allowed us four weeks to seek relief in this matter, and the public-spirited citizens and lawyers of India for putting up a spirited fight on our behalf, whose memory I will cherish,” Navlakha said in his statement. “I am humbled by the solidarity, which crossed borders, rallying in our support.”
He also mentioned the other activists arrested along with him and said he cannot forget them “and tens of thousands of other political prisoners in India who remain incarcerated for their ideological convictions or on account of false charges filed against them and/or wrongful conviction under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act”.
The Pune Police arrested Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao on August 28 as part of their investigation into violence during an event in Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1.
The police claimed the activists were “urban Naxalites” who used an anti-caste commemoration event in Pune to whip up sentiments that resulted in the violence in Bhima Koregaon. This was part of a larger plot, the police claimed, to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi and overthrow the government. The activists are currently under house arrest.
On September 28, the Supreme Court allowed investigation officers to continue with their inquiry into the violence. The court, in a 2:1 judgment, rejected the plea for an inquiry by a Special Investigation Team into the arrests of activists in the case. It also extended the house arrest of five activists by four weeks. While Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar delivered the majority judgment, Justice DY Chandrachud was the sole dissenter.