Law

Bhima Koregaon: SC Rejects Anticipatory Bail Pleas of Navlakha, Teltumbde

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M.R. Shah asked both the activists to surrender within three weeks.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the anticipatory bail pleas of civil rights activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M.R. Shah asked both the activists to surrender within three weeks.

The top court also asked them to surrender their passports forthwith.

The court had on March 6 extended until Monday the interim protection from arrest granted to both the activists.

Teltumbde and Navlakha had approached the high court seeking pre-arrest bail in November last year after a sessions court in Pune rejected their pleas.

Navlakha, Teltumbde and several other activists have been booked by Pune Police for their alleged Maoist links and several other charges following the violence at Koregaon Bhima village in Pune district on January 1, 2018.

All the accused have denied the allegations.

After being denied anticipatory bail, Navlakha released a statement saying that there was nothing “more pressing” for him than having his name cleared.

The entire text of the statement has been reproduced below:

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I thank Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah of the Supreme Court for giving me three weeks to surrender before the NIA (National Investigation Agency). I am grateful to senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal for defending us. I cannot thank enough my dearest friends-lawyers for investing their precious time to represent me.

Now that I have to surrender within three weeks, I ask myself: Dare I hope to be freed from the burden of being accused in what appears to me, to be yet another conspiracy trial, one more in the long list of such trials? Will the co-accused and others like them get their freedom back? These questions creep in because of the times we live in where civil liberties are getting progressively squeezed, and where only one narrative dominates, backed by crassness in public life.

The dreadful Act – the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act – allows for banning of an organisation and outlaws its ideology. As a result, the most innocuous and legitimate of engagement and interaction can become criminal in the eyes of the state. It is a law that makes the very process an instrument of punishment, without even waiting for the trial and its outcome.

So, I am aware that I am joining the ranks of thousands of others who are made to suffer for their convictions.

To draw an analogy from test cricket, which to me is the best form of cricket, where endurance, patience, fair play, grit and redemption grace the game. It is these same virtues that I demand from myself in this ‘test match’ of my life. There is nothing more pressing than for me to clear my name.

To my friends, colleagues and family – I cannot thank you enough for standing by me through this period. I remain in your debt.

Do please listen to Leonard Cohen sing the ‘Anthem’ and remember to:

Ring the Bell,
Which still can ring
Forget your perfect
Offering
There is a crack,
A crack in everything
That’s how light gets in.

Gautam Navlakha

(With inputs from PTI)