Cops fumble in high court

Arrested human rights activist Gautam Navlakha has won a breather for at least a night after Delhi High Court grilled Pune police.

By Pheroze L. Vincent
  • Published 29.08.18
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Human rights activist Gautam Navlakha at his residence after he was arrested by the Pune police in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PTI Picture)

New Delhi: Arrested human rights activist Gautam Navlakha has won a breather for at least a night after Delhi High Court grilled Pune police.

But a legal battle to prevent the transit of another arrested activist, Sudha Bharadwaj, from Faridabad dragged well past midnight. She waited in a vehicle outside the judicial magistrate's home.

Earlier in Delhi High Court, Justices S. Muralidhar and Vinod Goel questioned the police on the specific allegations against Navlakha, which they failed to explain.

Navlakha was then sent to house arrest instead of police custody that the prosecution had requested. On Wednesday, the case will be heard again.

Navlakha was arrested in the afternoon after a search at his south Delhi home. A chief metropolitan magistrate granted Pune police the transit remand.

Around the same time, a habeas corpus writ was filed in the high court by advocate Warisha Farasat. Navlakha's lawyer Nitya Ramakrishnan told the court that the FIR related to a meeting or cultural programme where he was not present.

The bench asked the police how they obtained the transit remand when all documents, except the remand application, were in Marathi.

After failing to get a clear answer, the bench asked: "What is the specific allegation against the petitioner?"

A police officer replied that forensic examination of electronic evidence seized from Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling, who were arrested earlier, "were direct contacts". "Elgaar Parishad (the Dalit congregation ahead of the Bhima-Koregaon bicentenary eight months ago) happened, they were in conspiracy before that."

The bench observed: "That is your conclusion."

The bench repeated thrice: "What is the specific allegation against him?"

Asked about the panchnama witnesses (those who witness the entries on the seizure list), a Maharashtra police officer said: "We have got two independent witnesses from Pune who are not police."

The bench said: "Why should witnesses come from Pune? Witnesses are supposed to be local."

The bench said most of the documents were in Marathi. "It is not possible to make out from these documents what precisely is the case against the petitioner," it added.

The judges asked for the translation of all the documents by Wednesday.