Gautam Navlakha plea: Entire 3-judge Bench of Supreme Court, four recusals so far

Gautam Navlakha plea: Entire 3-judge Bench of Supreme Court, four recusals so far

Murali Krishnan

All the three Supreme Court judges on the Bench today recused from hearing the appeal filed by Gautam Navlakha seeking quashing of FIR registered against him in the Bhima Koregaon case

The matter was listed today before a Bench of Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai. All three of them have recused from the case. The order reads:

“List on 03.10.2019 before a Bench of which none of us (N.V. Ramana, R.Subhash Reddy and B.R. Gavai, JJ.) are members.”

Yesterday, Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi had recused from the matter.

Thus, four Supreme Court judges have recused so far from the matter.

The petition by Navlakha is an appeal against a judgment of Bombay High Court which had refused to quash the FIR against Navlakha. The FIR accuses Navlakha of having links with banned Naxal groups.

The Bombay High Court had arrived at the prima facie conclusion that there exists sufficient material for the probe to continue against Navlakha. The material brought before the Court by Pune Police included several letters exchanged between CPI(Maoist) members, a critical report on Navlakha written by a CPI (Maoist) member allegedly elaborating the “deep-rooted involvement” of Navlakha in the party,  and a copy of the Strategy and Tactics of Indian Revolution, in addition to documents submitted by the State in a sealed envelope.

The High Court had, however, emphasised that the observations made in its order are only prima facie in nature and that they should not influence the trial court’s decision in the matter. Along with this, the interim protection from arrest afforded to Navlakha was extended for a period of three weeks giving time to Navlakha to come before the Supreme Court in appeal.

The State of Maharashtra had filed a caveat in the Supreme Court on September 16 in this case.

Gautam Navlakha and four other activists were implicated after an Elgar Parishad meeting held on December 31, 2017, allegedly provoked violence at the Koregaon-Bhima village in Pune the next day.

Navlakha was booked under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Sections 121, 121(a) and 124 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), amounting to waging a war against the State, conspiring to commit certain offences against the State, and sedition.

[Read Order]

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