5 SC judges recuse from Gautam Navlakha case in 4 days
Exclusive offer for a limited time, save up to Rs 20000* Dell India
The shocking news is that so many Supreme Court judges have past associations in one form or the other with Communist activists. Perhaps they were appointed because of those associations and sympathi…
NEW DELHI: Justice Ravindra Bhat on Thursday became the fifth Supreme Court judge to decline to hear activist Gautam Navlakha’s plea for quashing of an FIR lodged against him in the Koregaon-Bhima case.
With Navlakha’s protection from arrest ending on Friday, the SC agreed to his counsel senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s request that his plea for scrapping the FIR be listed on Friday.
Navlakha’s petition was first listed on October 1 before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who recused himself from hearing the case. His plea was then listed before a bench of Justices N V Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai and, interestingly, all three judges recused themselves and asked the CJI to list the case before another bench.
The recusal by successive judges is fairly unprecedented. The case was then assigned to a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and S Ravindra Bhat. When the case was taken up for hearing, Justice Bhat recused himself, making him the fifth judge to recuse in three days.
None of the five judges gave any reason for their recusal but senior advocate AM Singhvi said Justice Bhat may have appeared as a lawyer for the organisation with which Navlakha was associated.
“It is quite understandable that Justice Bhat recused himself either because he had appeared as counsel for or was a member of People’s Union for Democratic Rights,” Singhvi said.
Judges have recused when there is either a conflict of interest or in cases where they had appeared for any one of the parties while practising as a lawyer. Recently, Justice U U Lalit recused himself from the Ayodhya land dispute case as he had appeared for one of the persons accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
Retired Justice Markandey Katju had recused from the Novartis case on the ground that he had written an article on grant of pharma patents. Former CJI S H Kapadia had expressed unwillingness to hear a case involving Vedanta on the ground that he owned some shares of the company but the lawyers had insisted that they did not have any objection if a bench comprising him adjudicated the dispute.
In Navlakha’s case, an FIR was lodged against him and others by Pune police in January 2018 after an ‘Elgar Parishad’ was held on December 31, 2017, which allegedly triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima in Pune district the next day. The police also alleged that Navlakha and other accused in the case had Maoist links and were working towards overthrowing the government. They were booked under provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Indian Penal Code.
The India Express..