New Delhi, April 8: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde to surrender within a week in the Bhima Koregaon violence case.

A Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra said the time for surrender would not be extended and this was the “last opportunity”. The court said it had expected them to surrender, considering that the courts in Maharashtra were still open, The Hindu reported.

The activists, who were directed by the apex court on March 16 to surrender within three weeks, had moved the plea seeking extension of time on the ground that going to jail during ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is “virtually a death sentence.”

“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, since the petitioners have enjoyed the protection for long, by way of last opportunity, we extend the time granted to surrender for one week,” the Bench ordered.

On March 16, the apex court, while dismissing the anticipatory bail pleas of Mr. Navlakha and Mr. Teltumbde, had said their petitions cannot be maintained in view of the bar contained in 43D (4) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. Section 43D (4) of the UAPA bars grant of anticipatory bail to a person accused of having committed an offence punishable under this Act.

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