MUMBAI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde accused of alleged Maoist links in the 2018 Elgar Parishad case of Pune a last chance of one week to surrender before a court in Mumbai.
The Bombay HC had earlier this year rejected their plea for pre-arrest bail and they had gone to the SC to challenge the denial of protection against arrest. The SC had granted them time to surrender.
On April 8, the two made pleas for interim relief to continue. Senior counsel Kapil Sibal appeared for the accused and after hearing him and Tushar Mehta, the solicitor general for Centre, a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee said, “Though we expected that the accused would surrender, honouring the order of this Court, they have not done so. We are told that in Bombay, the courts are functioning. It would have been appropriate for the accused to surrender as the courts are open and not totally closed.”
However, the SC said that “since the petitioners have enjoyed the protection for long, by way of last opportunity, we extend the time granted to surrender for one week. We make it clear that there shall not be any further extension of time. This order shall not be treated as a precedent”.
In February, Bombay HC had served a setback to human rights activists Navlakha and Teltumbde, who is also a professor in Goa. Justice P D Naik of the HC, however, had continued their existing interim protection against arrest for additional four weeks on a plea to enable them to appeal before the SC.
The Pune police had also charged them under stringent provisions for offences under the anti-terror Act—Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act (UAPA).
Justice Naik, after a detailed hearing, held, “I am satisfied that prima facie there is material against applicant to show his complicity in the crime.’’
Navlakha’s counsel Yug Choudhary had argued before the HC in detail citing ‘lack of any evidence’ against him. Similarly, Teltumbde’s counsel Mihir Desai said the prosecution had no prima facie material to link him while public prosecutor Aruna Pai said there was and also submitted documents in a sealed cover to the judge which the defence counsels had objected to.