New Delhi, April 8: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde, allegedly accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, to surrender within a week.
On March 16, the apex court directed the activists to surrender within three weeks. The activists moved the apex court seeking extension of time saying going to jail amid the COVID-19 pandemic is “virtually a death sentence”.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said the accused should have honoured the decision of the court in connection with the dismissal of the anticipatory bail and the direction to surrender themselves within three weeks.
“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, since the petitioners have enjoyed the protection for long, by way of last opportunity, we extend the time granted to surrender for one week,” said the court, insisting that there shall not be any further extension.
Earlier, in the day Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the probe agency, said both accused are facing serious charges and making attempts to buy time.
On March 16, the Supreme Court on Monday declined anticipatory bail to Teltumbde and Navlakha and allowed them to surrender in three weeks before the National Investigating Agency (NIA) in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case.
A bench headed by Justices Arun Mishra and comprising Justice M.R. Shah asked both the activists to surrender and also their passports forthwith. The bench said their petitions cannot be maintained in view of the bar contained in 43D(4) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.
The Section 43D(4) of the UAPA bars grant of anticipatory bail to a person accused of having committed an offence punishable under this Act. The bench said: “The special leave petitions are, accordingly, dismissed. However, since the protection has been enjoyed by the petitioners approximately for one-and-a-half years, three weeks from today is granted to them to surrender. The petitioners shall surrender their passport forthwith with the investigation agency/officer.”
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Teltumbde, contended that the offence under section 120B of IPC is not laid down in the FIR and documents cited by Maharashtra Police were recovered from the computer of some other person. And, these documents were not even email; therefore, it is very difficult to validate them.
Navlakha and Teltumbde are among the many accused in the Bhima Koregaon case and are charged with sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).