The Supreme Court on Monday denied anticipatory bail to activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde in the case registered under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act alleging Maoist links in connection with Bhima Koregaon violence.
A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah dismissed the special leave petitions filed by them challenging the February 15 judgments of Bombay High Court which denied them pre-arrest bail on the finding that a prima facie case was made out against them based on materials on record. The High Court had however extended the interim protection which the accused enjoyed during the pendency of their applications for four more weeks. While issuing notice on their petitions, the Supreme Court had extended such interim protection until March 16.
On Monday, the bench said that the petitions were not maintainable, given the material collected by the investigating agency. The bench referred to Section 43D(4) of UAPA, which states that anticipatory bail should not be granted if the Court is satisfied about the existence of a prima facie case.
The Court has granted the petitioners three weeks time to surrender.
Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Teltumbde and Navlakha respectively, submitted that the incriminatory letters projected by the prosecution were recovered from another person. It was further submitted that they were peace activists who were engaged in criticism of the establishment through intellectual and academic methods.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for National Investigation Agency which took over the probe from Maharashtra police last month, submitted that custodial interrogation of the accused was highly necessary. The SG added that the accused were involved with banned organizations, and there were materials to show commission of offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
The case pertains to the violent incidents which occurred on January 1, 2018 at Bhima Koregaon, near Pune during the Dalit organizations' commemoration of 200th anniversary of Victory of Koregaon Battle. The Pune police alleged that violence was incited by the Elgaar Parishad meeting held at Pune the previous day. It was alleged that the meeting was organized by persons having nexus with banned Maoist organizations.
The first wave of arrests were made by the police in June 2018. The arrested persons were anti-caste activist Sudhir Dhawale, human rights lawyer Surendra Gadling, Forest Rights Act activist Mahesh Raut, retired English professor Shoma Sen and human rights activist Rona Wilson, an activist with the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners.
Later, activist-lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, Telugu poet Varavara Rao, activists Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves were arrested.
In November 2018, the police filed the first chargesheet in the case against the six persons arrested in June 2018.
In February 2019, supprelementary chargesheet against Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Gonsalves was filed.
Navlakha and Teltumbde are not named in the chargesheet.
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