Mumbai: The provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) are being ‘selectively’ used by the Maharashtra government to silence dissent, activist Gautam Navlakha submitted before the Bombay High Court. He has accused the government of being ‘discriminative’ in invoking the anti-terror law.
A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre extended the protection of Navlakha and activist Anand Teltumbde, from arrest, till November 1. The bench also extended similar relief to Father Stan Swamy, a human rights activist from Jharkhand. Even he is arraigned as an accused in this case and the Pune police had also raided his house in August.
“The government did not invoke UAPA against Manohar Bhide or Milind Ekbote, but it has done so for us. This government seems to use the law selectively,” said advocate Yug Chaudhary. He added, “Initially, the government claimed Bhima Koregaon riots were orchestrated by Bhide and Ekbote. Then suddenly they have linked us with Maoists and blamed us for triggering riots.”
The bench, after hearing the submissions asked the prosecutor Aruna Pai to put forth the prosecution case. She accordingly, submitted some ‘confidential’ reports and ‘on instructions’ from police officers present in the court said she cannot read its content in the courtroom.
This surprised many since this was the same evidence which the police officers had flaunted in front of media, especially TV channels, and called it ‘incriminating.’ The judges perused the reports and posted the matter for further hearing on November 1.
Meanwhile, the bench was petitioned by activists Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves, seeking protection from arrest. They urged the bench to either extend their house arrest or at least grant them pre-arrest bail. This comes after a Pune Sessions Court turned down their bail pleas, on Friday morning.
The bench, however, refused to grant any relief and directed both Ferreira and Gonsalves to move a single-judge bench of the HC and seek bail. The Pune police sent a team to Mumbai and Thane to pick up Gonsalves and Ferreira from their homes and take them to Pune to produce them before the court on Saturday.