Apex court asks HC to decide on Navlakha's plea in eight weeks
New Delhi: The Supreme Court asked the Bombay High Court on Tuesday to decide on a plea moved by civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha, seeking to quash the FIR lodged against him in the 2017 Koregaon-Bhima case, within eight weeks.
The top court kept the two appeals of the Maharashtra government -- filed against the orders of the Delhi High Court and the Bombay High Court respectively -- pending.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna said the Bombay High Court would decide on Navlakha's pending plea expeditiously, preferably within eight weeks. Appearing for the Maharashtra government, advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar said the Delhi High Court had on October 1, 2018 quashed Navlakha's transit remand order in a habeas corpus petition filed by the activist.
He said the habeas corpus petition was not maintainable in the high court, when a person was in lawful custody pursuant to the orders of the court.
Katneshwarkar further contended that even the transit remand order could not be set aside by the high court in the absence of any express prayer for that in the petition.
"The high court went ahead and set aside the transit remand order of the magistrate without even asking the petitioner (Navlakha) to amend the prayers in the writ petition," he said.
The standing counsel of the Maharashtra government argued that the high court had erred in setting aside the magistrate's transit remand order on the ground that the case diary was not produced before it. "Due to the order of production of case diary, the Maharashtra police was facing problems in conducting the investigation and making arrests across the country as it is not possible for the investigating officer to be present at every place," he said.
The bench agreed with the contention on production of case diary and asked the state government's counsel about the status of Navlakha's petition in the Bombay High Court for quashing of the FIR in the case.
Katneshwarkar said it was pending before the high court and therefore, they had filed the second appeal seeking direction for expeditious disposal of the petition.
The bench said it was keeping both the appeals of the state government pending and requesting the Bombay High Court to expeditiously decide on Navlakha's petition, preferably within eight weeks.
The Maharashtra police had arrested five activists, including Navlakha, on August 28 last year in connection with an FIR lodged following a conclave -- the "Elgar Parishad" -- held on December 31, 2017 that had allegedly triggered violence in Koregaon-Bhima village, near Pune, the next day.