The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to activist Gautam Navlakha, asking him to respond to the National Investigation Agency’s plea challenging a Delhi High Court order. The High Court had asked for judicial proceedings in the Bhima Koregaon case before special courts in Delhi and Mumbai, PTI reported.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, SA Nazeer and Indira Banerjee conducted the hearing through video conference and issued the notice to Navlakha. The bench also took note of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s submission that the High Court’s order to produce records of a trial court were outside of its jurisdiction.

The apex court posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.

On May 27, the Delhi High Court had criticised the NIA for its “unseemly haste” in moving Navlakha from Tihar jail in the Capital to Taloja jail in Mumbai when his bail application was pending. Navlakha was taken to Mumbai on May 26.

The High Court noted that in the May 22 hearing the NIA said it was planning to transfer Navlakha to Mumbai some time soon in view of air travel resuming, after obtaining orders from the competent court.

On May 22, the High Court had sought a response from the NIA on a plea filed by 67-year-old Navlakha who said that his age made him vulnerable to the coronavirus or other infections in a crowded prison. His counsel had said that the agency failed to mention Navlakha’s pending bail plea before he was taken to Mumbai.

The case

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.

On April 14, following Supreme Court orders, activists Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde surrendered before the NIA.

Navlakha and Teltumbde have been 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. The case subsequently made by the Pune Police accused Navlakha and Teltumbde of Maoist links and was later taken over by the NIA.

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  3. European Parliament sub-committee urges India to release Navlakha and Teltumbde immediately