Bhima-Koregaon violence: Bombay High Court to decide if Gautam Navlakha can be prosecuted under anti-terror law

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday reserved its orders on the plea filed by human rights' activist Gautam Navlakha, seeking quashing of the criminal case filed against him, for having Maoist links and abetting the Bhima-Koregaon violence in January 2018.

A bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre said, the initial records shown by the Pune police, point towards the innocence of Navlakha. However the documents brought on record later, warrant further probe in the matter.

Navlakha, along with seven other activists, is facing charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) organisation and also for plotting to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Earlier this week, the Pune Police also claimed that Navlakha was in touch with the pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen. The police also alleged that the activist was continuously in touch with the Kashmiri separatists.

Public prosecutor Aruna Kamath-Pai told the bench that during the investigations, the police had seized certain documents from the laptops of co-accused Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling, who are presently in judicial custody.

“These recovered documents show, the accused Navlakha and various of his Naxal groups had conducted bilateral talks with Hizbul leaders. He has been in liaison with the banned terrorist organisations since 2011,” Pai had told the bench.

“In fact, from 2011 till 2014, Navlakha was in touch with Kashmiri separatists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Shakil Bakshi and others,” Pai had claimed.

Meanwhile, all the charges have been denied by Navlakha's counsel Yug Mohit Chaudhary. He has maintained that his client cannot be labelled as a terrorist just because the police has found certain documents from the laptops of other arrested activists.

At this, the bench said the provisions of the UAPA law provide for prosecution of abetters.

“Some documents show his innocence but others warrant a probe. We will have to apply our mind and pass an order. Till then the interim protection from arrest would continue,” the bench said while closing the matter for judgment.

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