(From Left) civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha and Chief Justice of India Rajan Gogoi
(From Left) civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha and Chief Justice of India Rajan Gogoi
Image source: ANI and Twitter

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Monday recused himself from hearing a plea filed by civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha challenging the Bombay High Court order refusing to quash the FIR lodged against him in the Koregaon-Bhima violence case. "List the matter before a bench in which I am not the party", the Chief Justice said. The matter was listed before a bench of Chief Justice and Justices SA Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer.

The Maharashtra government had filed a caveat in the matter seeking to be heard before any orders are passed. On September 13, the high court had refused to quash the FIR lodged against him in the Koregaon-Bhima violence and for having alleged Maoist links, noting that there was prima facie substance in the case. The high court had said, "Considering the magnitude of the case, we feel a thorough investigation is required".

The FIR was lodged against Navlakha and others by the Pune Police in January 2018 after the Elgar Parishad held on December 31, 2017 that had allegedly triggered violence at Koregaon Bhima in Pune district the next day. The police had also alleged that Navlakha and other accused in the case had Maoist links and were working towards overthrowing the government.

The high court had, however, extended the protection from arrest to Navlakha for a period of three weeks to enable him to approach the Supreme Court in appeal against the HC order. Navlakha and the other accused were booked under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code. Besides Navlakha, four others -- Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj, are accused in the case.

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