HC restrains police from arresting Gautam Navlakha till Nov 1

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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday restrained Pune Police from arresting civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case, till November 1.

A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre adjourned the hearing on Navlakha’s plea till November 1, and extended the interim protection from arrest granted to him till then.

Navlakha, in a petition filed through advocate Yug Chowdhary, has sought quashing of the FIR lodged against him by Pune Police.

The high court, however, refused to grant any interim relief to professor Anand Teltumbde, a co-accused in the case who has not been arrested yet.

Teltumbde moved the high court Friday afternoon after his anticipatory (pre-arrest) bail plea was rejected by a lower court.

The high court said it will hear his plea on November 1.

Government lawyer Aruna Pai opposed the pleas of both Navlakha and Teltumbde.

Police have enough evidence against the two as well as the other accused, she said.

Advocate Chowdhary, on the other hand, said the charges against Navlakha and the other accused are baseless, and they are “professors and intellectuals working in public interest for decades”.

Arun Ferreira, another accused in the case whose house arrest ends Friday, also approached the high court seeking extension of the house arrest.

But the division bench did not grant him any extension, saying that it will hear him on November 1.

Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj were arrested on August 28 for allegedly having links with Maoists in the aftermath of violence at Bhima Koregaon in Pune district on January 1.

Police alleged that Maoists had supported the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune which led to the violence.

Navlakha was released by the Delhi High Court after which he moved the Bombay High Court seeking to quash the FIR.