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Elgar Parishad: HC extends relief from arrest to 3 activists

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The Bombay High Court on Thursday extended till December 14, the interim protection from arrest to activists Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, and Stan Swamy, in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case.

A bench of Justices B P Dharamadhikari and Sarang Kotwal also directed the Pune Police to file an affidavit by December 5 this year on its probe into the case.

The bench’s direction came after the state’s counsel, additional government pleader Aruna Pai opposed a plea filed by Navlakha seeking that the FIR in the case against him be quashed.

Pai told the bench that while the police had “enough material evidence against Navlakha, it could not yet make the same information public”.

She added that at the present stage, Swamy and Teltumbde were mere “suspects” in the case and that the police’s probe against the two, and the other activists were still ongoing.

The bench, however, took a strong exception to Pai’s statement and said that the prosecution was bound to place on record all the relevant information in the case.

“File an affidavit putting on record whatever stage your investigation is right now. Since you are saying you can’t make the details public or known to the other party, place the reasons behind your inability to make it known, also in the affidavit. All that is necessary and relevant to the case must be brought on record,” the bench said.

The bench also directed the three petitioners to file their counter-affidavits within a week from the date that the police files its affidavit.

Navlakha has challenged before the Bombay HC, an FIR registered against him and some other activists on January 1 this year in connection with the Elgar Parishad event held on December 31, 2017.

According to police, the Elgar Parishad event was funded and supported by Maoists.

At the event, held a day before the January 1 clashes at Bhima Koregaon near Pune, the activists allegedly made inflammatory speeches and provocative statements that contributed to the Koregaon Bhima violence, the police said.

Several activists were named in the FIR.

Some of them, including Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj, P Varavara Rao, and Gautam Navlakha, were initially put under house arrest on the directions of the Supreme Court.

However, all of them, except Navlakha, were recently re-arrested and taken into custody by the police.

In October this year, another FIR was registered by the Pune Police on the same issue, naming eight more activists, including Teltumbde and Swamy.

Teltumbde and Swamy are yet to be arrested in the case.

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