Fifth Supreme Court Judge Recuses Himself From Hearing Gautam Navlakha's Plea

The activist is challenging the Bombay high court's order refusing to quash the FIR registered against him in the Bhima Koregaon case.

New Delhi: A fifth Supreme Court judge has recused himself from hearing activist Gautam Navlakha’s petition challenging the Bombay high court’s order refusing to quash an FIR lodged against him in the Bhima Koregaon violence case.. Justice Ravindra Bhat followed Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice B.R. Gavai, N.V. Ramana and R. Subhash Reddy to become the fifth judge in three days to recuse himself from hearing the case.

While CJI Gogoi recused himself on Monday (September 30), the three other judges recused themselves on Tuesday. None of the judges has provided a reason for recusing themselves.

Navlakha and other activists and lawyers have been charged for having alleged Maoist links and triggering violence at the Bhima Koregaon rally in 2017. The Pune Police arrested several activists across the country in September 2018. Among those accused are Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj, all of whom have been arrested.

They have been charged under provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and sections of the Indian Penal Code.

On September 13, the Bombay high court had refused to quash the FIR lodged against him in the case 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 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 to file an appeal against its order.