01, Oct 2018 | CJP Team
After the Supreme Court extended the house arrest of five activists arrested for their alleged involvement in instigating the Bhima Koregaon violence, and granted them four weeks to seek relief from lower courts, the Delhi High Court has set aside activist Gautam Navlakha’s transit remand. He was also released from house arrest shortly after the HC order.
CJP stands in solidarity with the human rights defenders targeted by a vindictive state. A healthy democracy needs voices of dissent. We also need human rights defenders and social activists to work tirelessly to uphold our shared values of equality, peace and justice. Join CJP now!
The entire Delhi High Court Order may be read here:
After being released Navlakha released the following statement:
Statement of an Urban Naxal I wish to thank the majority and dissenting Justices of the Supreme Court for their judgment, which allowed us four weeks to seek relief in this matter, and the public-spirited citizens & lawyers of India for putting up a spirited fight on our behalf, whose memory I will cherish. I am humbled by the solidarity, which crossed borders, rallying in our support. From Delhi High Court I have won my freedom. It thrills me no end. My dearest friends and lawyers led by Nitya Ramakrishnan, Warisha Farasat, Ashwath, along with others in the legal & logistics team, literally, ‘moved heaven and earth’ to win me my freedom. I don’t know if I can ever repay this debt. Nor to the senior lawyers who argued in our favour in the apex court. The period of house arrest, despite the restrictions imposed was put to good use, so I hold no grudge. However, I cannot forget my co-accused and tens of thousands of other political prisoners in India who remain incarcerated for their ideological convictions, or on account of false charges filed against them, and/or wrongful conviction under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act - UAPA. Fellow accused in the same matter have gone on hunger strike against the maltreatment inside the jails and demanded that they be recognised as political prisoners/prisoners of conscience. Other political prisoners too have time and again sat on hunger strike and demanded the same. Their freedom and their rights are precious to Civil Liberties & Democratic Rights movement. But, there is reason to celebrate. I salute the LGBTQ comrades for their monumental victory recently after a relentless and stubborn struggle, which has opened the door for as significant a social reform movement as the one fired by Babasaheb Ambedkar for the annihilation of caste, exhorting us all to ‘educate, organise and agitate’. Our solidarity was slow in coming, but your perseverance forced us to change. You brought a smile back on our faces and rainbow colours in our lives. Also, freedom won by Bhim Army’s Chandrashekhar Ravan and his comrades Sonu and Shivkumar from preventive detention is particularly reassuring because it shows the power of indomitable resistance against a socially entrenched casteist tyranny, from ground below. My Salaam to friends in JNUSU for the historic victory of the United Left panel which proves yet again that united resistance is the need of the hour - only thus can we face persecution and struggle so that it gathers critical mass support. Friends, sacchai aur imandari se lade shabd goli aur gaali se zyada takatvar hote hain, aaj yeh saabit ho raha hai. Hamare geet aur kavitayon mein josh hai, aur hamare kaam aur lekhni ka aadhar reason aur facts hain. To all my nearest and dearest, let us continue to speak up for the enforcement of our constitutional freedoms and against oppression & exploitation in all forms. Let’s recall Pash ke yeh anmol bol: ‘Hum Ladenge Saathi Ki ladne ke baghair kuch bhi nahi milta Hum ladenge Ki abhi tak lade kyon nahi Hum ladenge Apni saza kabulne ke liye Ladte huey mar jaane walon ki Yaad zinda rakhne ke liye HUM LADENGE SAATHI Lal Salaam! Gautam
Brief Background of the Case
Five prominent civil society members Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Fereira were arrested by the Pune Police in a nationwide crackdown on dissent on September 28, 2018. Many legal provisions and procedures were flouted with impunity as police conducted coordinated raids in different states. Their allegations against the activists ranged from them being Maoists plotting to overthrow the government, to masterminded the Bhima Koregaon violence to even plotting to kill the Prime Minister! This was just like the first wave of raids that took place in June, 2018.
The Pune Police moved local courts to get transit remand for the arrested activists to take them to Pune for further investigation. But prominent civil society voices intervened on behalf of the arrested activists. Historian Romila Thapar, academic Devaki Jain, left economist and professor Prabhat Patnaik, professor of Sociology Satish Deshpande and human rights lawyer, Maja Daruwala moved the SC urging an intervention and seeking an explanation from the Maharashtra government on the recent spate of arrests of lawyers, academics and activists. The Bench responded to this petition saying “Dissent is the safety valve of democracy and if you don’t allow these safety valves it will burst.” The SC then directed the arrested activists to be placed under house arrest.
In wake of the SC order of September 28, which disposed off the petition by Romila Thapar and others, Gautam Navlakha sought relief from the Delhi High Court on October 1. Navlakha is viewed as a principled dissenter and known for his concern for the welfare of the oppressed and marginalised. His arrest was viewed as a political ploy.
After his transit remand was stayed by the Delhi HC, he was released from house arrest by the Delhi Police.