The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave activists Gautam Navlakha and Anil Teltumbde a week’s time surrender to prison authorities in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, Live Law reported. Last month, the court had rejected their anticipatory bail pleas and gave them time until April 6 to surrender.

The counsel for the activists said that they are over 65 years old with pre-existing medical conditions, adding that therefore they should be granted more time to surrender. “Going to jail at the time of the Covid-19 virus is virtually a death sentence,” the lawyer said.

The top court bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee said, “However, since the petitioners have enjoyed protection for long , by last opportunity, we extended the time granted to surrender by one week.” The judges added that the activists will not be granted further extension.

Navlakha and Teltumbde were charged under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and various sections of the Indian Penal Code following the violence at Bhima Koregaon village near Pune on January 1, 2018. The case made by the Pune Police accused them of Maoist links and was later taken over by the National Investigation Agency.

Last week, more than 5,000 individuals and over 15 organisations around the world had also urged the Centre to delay Teltumbde and Navlakha’s arrest.

Last year, a Pune sessions court had rejected their anticipatory bail pleas. The court also denied them a three-day interim protection, paving the way for their arrest in the case. After that, they moved the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court.

Violence broke out between Dalits and Marathas in the village of Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1, 2018. This came a day after an event in Pune, called the Elgar Parishad, was organised to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818 in which the Dalit soldiers fighting for the British Army defeated the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha empire. One person died in violence during a bandh called by Dalit outfits on January 2.

Also read: A letter to Anand Teltumbde, on his way to jail