The Bombay High Court on Friday reserved its verdict on activist Gautam Navlakha’s plea seeking to quash a first information report filed against him for alleged links with Maoists. Navlakha was among five activists arrested last August in connection with the Elgar Parishad and Bhima Koregaon case.
A bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre said some documents that the Pune Police placed on record suggested that Navlakha was innocent but some needed to be investigated, PTI reported. The court also extended the protection from arrest granted to Navlakha until the verdict.
Earlier this week, the Pune Police told the Bombay High Court that Navlakha and the Maoist groups he was allegedly associated with were in touch with militant group Hizbul Mujahideen and Kashmiri separatist leaders.
Navlakha’s lawyer Yug Chaudhry denied these charges in court. Chaudhary on Friday told the court that just a claim by the police that they had found documents with Navlakha’s name does not prove that he was a terrorist.
The judges, however, said that some sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act provided punishments even for abetting terror-related activities. “Can you say that only someone who drops a bomb is a terrorist, there are abetters too,” the judges said. “Some of the documents given by police show innocence, others need an investigation. We will apply our mind and pass an order.”
Navlakha and activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao were arrested on August 28 for their alleged involvement in an event that preceded the violence between Dalits and Marathas at Bhima Koregaon village near Pune on January 1, 2018. They were subsequently placed under house arrest. The activists were booked under provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Indian Penal Code.
Five other activists – Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale – were arrested in June 2018 as part of the same investigation and a chargesheet was filed against them. The 10 activists are accused of masterminding the violence in Bhima Koregaon and of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).