The Supreme Court on Friday extended till March 16 the interim protection from arrest granted to civil rights activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee said it would hear on March 16 the appeals filed by Mr Navlakha and Mr Teltumbde against a Bombay High Court order of last month rejecting their anticipatory bail pleas.
The high court, while refusing to grant anticipatory bail to Mr Navlakha and Mr Teltumbde on February 14, had extended their interim protection from arrest for a period of four weeks to enable them to approach the top court.
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and AM Singhvi, appearing for the activists, told the top court that protection granted to them by the high court would expire on March 14 and the top court should extend it.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the bench that probe in the Bhima Koregaon violence case has been transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
"We have not received any such notice," Mr Singhvi said.
To this, the bench told Mr Sibal and Mr Singhvi that they can implead the NIA as a party in the case.
"We are listing the matter for March 16," the bench said.
Mr Mehta said since the matter would be heard on March 16, the top court can extend the interim protection till then.
The high court had refused to grant anticipatory bail to Mr Navlakha and Mr Teltumbde saying, "On perusal of all the material on record, it can be seen that there is prima facie evidence showing the complicity of applicants (Mr Navlakha and Mr Teltumbde) in the crime."
The high court, after perusing letters allegedly exchanged between the accused persons, had noted that Mr Navlakha, Mr Teltumbde and other accused like Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson and Sudha Bharadwaj prima facie had access to and connections with central committee members and leaders of the banned CPI (Maoist).
Mr Navlakha, Mr Teltumbde and several other activists have been booked by the Pune Police for their alleged Maoist links and several other charges following the violence at Koregaon Bhima village in Pune district on January 1, 2018.
All the accused have denied the allegations.
According to Pune Police, "inflammatory" speeches and "provocative" statements made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017 had triggered caste violence at Koregaon Bhima the next day. The police alleged that the conclave was backed by Maoists.
Mr Teltumbde and Mr Navlakha had approached the high court seeking pre-arrest bail in November last year after a sessions court in Pune had rejected their pleas.
In December last year, the high court had granted them interim protection from arrest pending disposal of their anticipatory bail pleas.
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