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SC rejects Gautam Navlakha & Anand Teltumbde’s anticipatory bail in Bhima Koregaon case

The top court bench, while rejecting the plea, said there was no prima facie case to be made out and gave the activists three weeks to surrender.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected anticipatory bail pleas of civil rights activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case, saying it cannot be said that no prima facie case is made out.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah while dismissing the anticipatory bail pleas of Navlakha and Teltumbde said their petitions cannot be maintained in view of the bar contained in 43D(4) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.

Section 43D(4) of the UAPA bars grant of anticipatory bail to a person accused of having committed an offence punishable under this Act.

“The special leave petitions are, accordingly, dismissed. However, since the protection has been enjoyed by the petitioners approximately for one-and-a-half years, three weeks time from today is granted to them to surrender. The petitioners shall surrender their passport forthwith with the investigation agency/officer,” the bench said.

During the hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Teltumbde, said that the offence under section 120B of IPC is not laid down in the FIR and contended that some documents which the Maharashtra Police recovered was from another person’s computer.

He said that these documents are not even emails so as to justify their credibility.

Also read: Pune court rejects activist Gautam Navlakha’s bail plea in Bhima Koregaon case

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Navlakha, said that UAPA charges were added in the second FIR in June 2018 and his client has not been named or any role assigned to him in the second FIR.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the National Investigation Agency (NIA), countered the allegations and said that there are emails which talk about “glorious violence” and mentions killing of 27 CRPF jawans in Sukma, Chhattisgarh.

Singhvi said that even police has “used me (Navlakha) to talk to the Maoists and I have worked as an intermediary”.

Mehta said that both the accused are connected to each other and have been consistently communicating and their Maoist activities are apparent on the face of record.

He said that both the accused have been constantly in touch with elements who have been trying to destroy the sovereignty of the country.

Mehta said that they have lost the cases for quashing of FIR against them in various forums which shows prima facie cases are against them and for that the probe agency needs their custodial interrogation.

Navlakha and Teltumbde had approached the apex court challenging the decision of the Bombay High Court by which it had refused to grant them anticipatory bail in the case.

The top court had on March 6 extended till today the interim protection from arrest granted to both the activists.

The high court, while refusing to grant anticipatory bail to Navlakha and Teltumbde on February 14, had extended their interim protection from arrest for a period of four weeks to enable them to approach the apex court.

The high court had refused to grant anticipatory bail to Navlakha and Teltumbde saying, “On perusal of all the material on record, it can be seen that there is prima facie evidence showing complicity of applicants (Navlakha and Teltumbde) in the crime.”

The high court, after perusing letters allegedly exchanged between the accused persons, had noted that Navlakha, Teltumbde and other accused like Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson and Sudha Bharadwaj prima facie had access to and connections with central committee members and leaders of the banned CPI(Maoist).

Navlakha, Teltumbde and several other activists have been booked by the Pune Police for their alleged Maoist links and several other charges following the violence at Koregaon Bhima village in Pune district on January 1, 2018.

All the accused have denied the allegations.

According to Pune Police, “inflammatory” speeches and “provocative” statements made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017 had triggered caste violence at Koregaon Bhima the next day. The police alleged that the conclave was backed by Maoists.

Teltumbde and Navlakha had approached the high court seeking pre-arrest bail in November last year after a sessions court in Pune had rejected their pleas.

Also read: NIA focus in Bhima-Koregaon probe will be on accused named in FIR but not arrested yet

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