The Bombay High Court on Friday restrained the police from arresting civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, until November 1, PTI reported. On October 19, the court had directed the police to refrain from taking coercive action against Navlakha and another co-accused, Anand Teltumbde, for a week.
A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre, however, refused to grant interim relief to Teltumbde who has not been arrested yet. Teltumbde had moved the High Court after a Pune sessions court rejected his anticipatory bail plea.
Advocate Yug Chowdhary, representing Navlakha and Teltumbde in court claimed that the allegations against his clients were baseless. “They are professors and intellectuals working in public interest for decades,” Chowdhary told the court. Government lawyer Aruna Pai said the police have enough evidence against the two accused.
The High Court scheduled the next hearing for November 1.
The Pune Police, meanwhile, took into custody activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira on Friday hours after a sessions court rejected their bail pleas and applications seeking an extension of their house arrests for seven days.
Ferreira and Gonsalves, along with activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha, were arrested on August 28 in connection with their alleged involvement in an event that preceded the violence at Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1. On Thursday, a Hyderabad court had extended the house arrest of Varavara Rao. The Delhi High Court had ordered Navlakha’s release from house arrest on October 1.
The Supreme Court had last month extended the house arrest of all five activists by four weeks. Five other activists – Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale – were arrested in June as part of the same investigation. They are also accused of having links to the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist).
Petition against the investigation
A day after the second set of arrests, five citizens filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking their release. Later, an intervention application was also filed on behalf of the five activists arrested earlier. The Supreme Court decided not to order an inquiry into the arrests, and on Wednesday, declined an urgent hearing of a review petition challenging that verdict.
The Maharashtra Police have defended the arrests on the grounds that the accused were planning large-scale violence as part of the agenda of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). They had earlier claimed the activists were involved in the Elgar Parishad in Pune that was followed by the caste-related violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1.