New Delhi: The Supreme Court has rejected a plea filed by activist Gautam Navlakha seeking a default bail in the Bhima Koregaon case, observing no merit in the plea.
Navlkaha also wanted to include the 34-day period of his unlawful custody in 2018 while computing the period for filing charge-sheet under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
A bench comprising Justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph dismissed Navlakha's petition, affirming the Bombay High Court judgment. Earlier, the bench had reserved judgment on March 26.
The High Court had observed that the time spent in "unlawful custody" cannot be included while computing the 90 days period prescribed for grant of default bail under section 167(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
The Court had further observed that 34 days Navlakha had spent under house arrest between August 28, 2018 - October 10, 2018, cannot be used to calculate his total detention period, especially since his arrest, as well as the magistrate's transit remand, was found to be illegal by the Delhi HC.
The Maharashtra police had arrested Navlakha on August 28, 2018, in connection with an FIR lodged following the 'Elgar Parishad' held on December 31, 2017, and the Bhima Koregaon violence, a day after. Through the nationwide crackdown on activists and academics, connected to the conference, the police claimed to bust a larger Maoist conspiracy.
The case was later handed over to the NIA. Navlakha's arrest and subsequent house arrest in August 2018, was declared illegal by the Delhi High Court. Navlakha then approached the Sessions Court, followed by the High Court and Supreme Court for anticipatory bail. The Supreme Court, on March 16, 2020, directed Navlakha to surrender within three weeks, after rejecting his bail application.
His plea seeking an extension in view of the coronavirus pandemic was also rejected. Following this Navlakha surrendered on April 14 last year.