Mumbai: A bench of the Bombay High Court on Wednesday recused itself from hearing the bail plea of Delhi University’s associate professor Hany Babu, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case.
Babu filed his appeal in the HC last month, challenging the rejection of his bail plea by a special NIA court. His plea, filed through counsels Yug Chaudhry and Payoshi Roy, was mentioned before a vacation bench of the high court last month. At that time, the vacation bench directed that the plea be heard by a regular bench of the high court.
On Wednesday, when the plea came up before a bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and VG Bisht, the bench recused itself from the hearing it without citing any reason.
Justice Mohite-Dere also recused herself from hearing a plea filed by Elgar Parishad case co-accused Gautam Navlakha, who has sought, among other things, access to telephone calls at the Taloja prison, where he is currently lodged as an undertrial. Navlakha, 71, has been lodged inside the high security ‘anda cell’ of the Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai since October last year.
Hany Babu, who was arrested in July 2020 from his residence in Delhi, is also lodged at the Taloja prison.
The pleas of Babu and Navlakha pleas will come up for hearing before an appropriate bench later this month.
In February this year, the NIA court had rejected Hany Babu’s bail plea after observing that there existed prima facie evidence that he was “actively involved” in activities of the banned CPI (Maoist) organisation. The court had also noted that what went against Babu’s case was that he had been a member of the committee that agitated to free life term convict and former Delhi University professor G N Saibaba in the case.
However, Hany Babu said in his plea that there was no evidence to even suggest that he intended to or supported activities to cause disaffection against India. He also said there was no evidence against him to charge him under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
In 2019, Justice Mohite-Dere recused herself from hearing pleas by eight accused persons in the case, who had challenged a Pune sessions court order taking cognisance of a charge sheet filed in the case by local police, the initial prosecuting agency in the case.
In the past, Justices PB Varale, SS Shinde and Sadhana Jadhav of the Bombay High Court had also recused themselves from hearing the Elgar Parishad matters.
The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the ‘Elgar Parishad’ conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the city’s outskirts.
The Pune police had claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.
The probe in the case, in which more than a dozen activists and academicians have been named as accused, was later transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).