All three judges on a Supreme Court bench on Tuesday recused themselves from hearing activist Gautam Navlakha’s plea to quash a first information report filed against him in the Bhima Koregaon case, Bar and Bench reported. This came a day after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi recused himself from the case.
A bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai said the matter would be listed before another bench on October 3. Navlakha has challenged a Bombay High Court order rejecting his petition.
Navlakha is accused of having links with Maoists. He was one of the five activists arrested in August 2018 in connection with the violence that broke out in the village near Pune on January 1 that year between Dalits and Marathas. The violence was allegedly triggered by an Elgar Parishad event the day before in Pune that was organised to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818 between the East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy. Many Dalits fought for the British in the battle against the Brahmin Peshwas.
On September 13, the Bombay High Court had extended Navlakha’s interim relief from arrest in the case for three weeks, allowing him to appeal in the top court.
In its order, the High Court said the alleged offences by Navlakha were not limited to the violence. “There are many more facets to it,” it added. “Considering the magnitude of the case, we feel a thorough investigation is required. The case is not without basis and absence of material.”
Along with Navlakha, activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao were also arrested. 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.
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