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Navlakha case: Fifth Supreme Court judge recuses self

Gautam Navlakha had challenged the Bombay High Court order refusing to quash an FIR lodged against him in the Koregaon Bhima violence case.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Oct 04, 2019, 07.28 AM IST
Koregaon-Bhima case: Justice Ravindra Bhat recuses from hearing Navlakha's plea
Koregaon-Bhima case: Justice Ravindra Bhat recuses from hearing Navlakha's plea
New Delhi: Justice Ravindra Bhat of the Supreme Court on Thursday recused himself from hearing journalist Gautam Navlakha’s plea for quashing an FIR filed against him by the Maharashtra government for allegedly having Maoist links. Justice Bhat is the fifth judge of the top court to recuse himself from the case.

The case relates to the violence in Bhima Koregaon during a Dalit function.

The Maharashtra government has arrested several members of the intelligentsia who organised the function over their suspected links with Naxals. The prosecution has dubbed them as “urban Naxals”.

Justice Bhat recused himself when the case came up before a bench led by Justice Arun Mishra. No reasons were cited for this. Justice Vineet Saran was the third judge on the bench.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had first recused himself from hearing the case, possibly over paucity of time. He demits office on November 17, 2019, and must finish all pending cases before that. He is also hearing the Ayodhya title suit as part of a five-judge bench.

Justice SA Bobde, the next in line to be CJI, is also part of the Ayodhya bench.

In order of seniority, the case travelled then to Justice NV Ramana. The entire bench headed by Justice Ramana recused itself from hearing the case.

Among those who recused themselves from hearing Navlakha’s plea include Justices Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai. The case will now have to be heard by a new bench on Friday as the Bombay High Court protection for him in the case lapsed on Thursday.

“His bail expires today,” Navlakha’s lawyers told the bench led by Justice Mishra who directed that the case be listed before an appropriate bench on Friday.

Navlakha and several others such as lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj, poet Varavara Rao, lecturer Vernon Gonsalves and lawyer and human rights activist Arun Ferreira figure in the case. They have been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for their alleged links with the banned CPI (Maoist).
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