Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case
The Supreme Court, on Monday, set aside Delhi High Court’s May 27 order to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to produce the records of the production warrant issued for the transfer of journalist-turned-civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha (65) who is in custody with five others for allegedly inciting violence at Bhima Koregaon near Pune in January 2018 and allegedly hatching a secret Maoist conspiracy to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The High Court had pulled up NIA for its ‘unseemly haste’ to move Navlakha out of the jurisdiction of a Delhi court that was considering his bail application. Navlakha is currently lodged in Taloja jail in Mumbai. On June 2, the Apex Court had stayed the High Court’s order.
Allowing NIA’s appeal against the High Court order, the bench, comprising Justice Arun Mishra, Navin Sinha and Ms Indira Banerjee, expunged the remarks made against the NIA despite Navlakha’s lawyer Kapil Sibal pleading that it would amount to casting aspersions in the High Court.
During the hearing on Monday, Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta said the Delhi HC’s order was of ‘unprecedented nature’. He said, at the time of Navlakha’s surrender in Delhi, as per the Apex Court’s directive, India was under lockdown. His custody was required with NIA Mumbai as there has been discovery of new evidence,” he submitted, pointing out that “Special Judge in Mumbai was pleased to pass the order for his transfer at the behest of our arguments and we did not hide anything from the court.”
The SG said once the transfer was brought to the notice of the High Court, it ceased to possess jurisdiction over the matter.
Senior advocate Sibal challenged the NIA petition as not maintainable since the HC had just called for records, as it was not to grant the bail but just to know the circumstances in which they took Navlakha to Mumbai. Justice Mishra intervened to know how Delhi HC can direct the NIA for an affidavit detailing proceedings before the Special NIA Court in Mumbai.
Navlakha and his accomplices are charged with inciting the violence on January 1, 2018 at Bhima Koregao during the Dalit organisations’ commemoration of 200th anniversary of Koregaon battle by organising an Elgar Parishad meeting in Pune the previous day. It was alleged that the meeting was organised by persons having nexus with the banned Maoist organisations.
The NIA took over the investigation from Police after the latter had filed two charge-sheets, first in November 2018 and another in February and those charged with Navlakha include Delhi’s activist lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, Telugu poet Varavara Rao, Activists Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves, retired English professor Shoma Sen and human rights activist Rona Wilson