Bhima Koregaon case: HC reserves verdict on Navlakha’s plea

Bombay High Court has reserved its verdict on a plea filed by rights activist Gautam Navlakha, seeking to quash the FIR filed against him filed by Pune Police in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case

Bhima Koregaon case: HC reserves verdict on Navlakha’s plea

PTI

The Bombay High Court on Friday reserved its verdict on a plea filed by rights activist Gautam Navlakha, seeking that the FIR filed against him by Pune Police in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case be quashed.

A bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre, which heard the plea, said while some documents placed on record by police suggested that activist Navlakha was innocent, the rest of the material on record needed further investigation.

The case, in which Navlakha is an accused, related to an event, Elgar Parishad, and subsequent violence at Bhima Koregaon village near Pune between December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018.

He is among the five rights activists booked in the case.

Navlakha has been booked on a slew of charges, including sections under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), an anti-terrorism law.

On the last hearing earlier this week, Pune Police's counsel Aruna Pai alleged that the police had adequate evidence to show that Navlakha was complicit in the Bhima Koregaon incident.

Pai had also alleged that Navlakha had links with Naxal groups and banned terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.

She had said the police had recovered some documents from the laptops of Rona Wilson and Surendra Handling, Navlakha's co-accused in the case, to prove the same.

However, on Friday, Navlakha's counsel, Yug Chaudhary, denied the charges.

He argued that a mere claim by the police of having found some documents with his client's name did not prove that he was a "terrorist".

The bench, however, said that Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act also provided for punishment for "advocating, abetting, and advising on unlawful activities.

"Can you say that only someone who drops a bomb is a terrorist, there are abetters too," the bench said.

"Some of the documents given by police show innocence, others need an investigation. We will apply our mind and pass an order," the court said while reserving its verdict.

The interim protection against arrest granted to Navlakha by the high court earlier this month will continue till the verdict, it said.

The police had arrested the five activists in August last year in connection with an FIR lodged following a conclave -- 'Elgar Parishad' -- held in Pune on December 31, 2017, that had allegedly triggered violence the next day at Bhima Koregaon.

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