Fri, 07 Aug 2020

New Delhi [India], July 6 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Monday set aside the Delhi High Court order seeking records of judicial proceedings before special courts in Delhi and Mumbai in connection with the transfer of activist Gautam Navlakha to Mumbai in Bhima Koregaon case.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said that Delhi High Court should not have entertained interim bail plea of Navlakha in Bhima Koregaon case as the case comes within the jurisdiction of Bombay High Court.

The bench also expunged adverse remarks made for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) by a single-judge bench of Delhi High Court, while allowing the plea.

Appearing for the NIA, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that the Delhi High Court had passed an "unprecedented" order for "house custody" for Navlakha and he was given protection while in house custody.

At the time of the surrender, Delhi was under lockdown after which Navlakha moved his plea in the Delhi High Court, said Mehta adding that a request was later made for a production warrant from the Bombay High Court and special judge on the judicial side in Bombay passed the order.

Custody of Navlakha is now required with NIA in Mumbai due to the discovery of new evidence, which is in electronic form too, Mehta told the apex court during the hearing.

He further submitted that when Navlakha moved the Delhi High Court, they had already informed the Delhi High Court that all other accused are in Bombay and High Court of Delhi ceases to have jurisdiction and is completely unwarranted.

Navlakha, one of the several civil liberties activists in the Bhima Koregaon case, has been booked under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for an alleged conspiracy to topple the government.

Gautam Navlakha had surrendered before the NIA on April 14 in pursuance to the Supreme Court's direction and was lodged in Tihar jail. Though the case against him is pending in Mumbai, he had surrendered in Delhi due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

He was later taken to Mumbai by train on May 26.

The Delhi High Court had earlier pulled up the NIA for acting in "unseemly haste" in taking away Navlakha from Delhi to Mumbai while his interim bail plea was pending in Delhi.

The court had noted that there was an "evident haste" shown by the NIA in moving pleas across Mumbai and Delhi over weekends and Gazetted holidays (Eid) and obtaining orders by e-mail, and "whisking away" Navlakha to Mumbai, which has rendered these proceedings "infructuous". (ANI)

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