A Bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Shantanagouder said if Ekbote is held, he would be released on bail on furnishing a surety for Rs 2L.
New Delhi: In a huge relief, the Supreme Court on Wednesday granted interim protection to Hindutva outfit leader Milind Ekbote, accused for instigating the Bhima Koregaon violence on January 1.
A Bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Shantanagouder said if Ekbote is arrested, he would be released on bail on furnishing a surety for Rs 2 lakhs.
The bench issued notice to the Maharashtra government returnable on February 20 on the special leave petition filed by Ekbote challenging the Bombay High Court’s order rejecting his plea for anticipatory bail.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi representing the Petitioner submitted that the High Court order rejecting the anticipatory bail was yet to be made available and that the petitioner must be protected from arrest.
He also told court that his client has been charged under pressure, as he was not at the site when violence took place and was at home.
Counsel for one of the victims opposed granting any relief to Ekbote, who is a former corporator and president of the Hindutva outfit Samasta Hindu Aghadi and is known for cow vigilantism in Pune and its neighbouring districts.
Read: Bhima-Koregaon: Pune court issues warrant against pro-Hindutva leader
A Special Pune Court rejected earlier Ekbote’s anticipatory bail application on January 22, which refused to grant him interim protection.
The Pune rural police had invoked IPC Sections 153 (a) (provocation with intent to cause riot), 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) and Sections 117 (abetting commission of offence by the public or by more than 10 persons) against Ekbote claiming that their preliminary probe has found proof of his involvement in the violence.
The police had invoked the said Sections against him on January 23 and a report regarding the same was submitted to the sessions court in Shivaji Nagar.
Two FIRs were registered against Ekbote and Manohar alias Sambhaji Bhide by Dalit activists, accusing the duo of anti-Dalit violence at Bhima Koregaon at a time when lakhs of Dalits had come to pay their respects at Jay Stambh in Perne village on the Pune-Ahmednagar road to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon.
The violence had left one person dead.
Clashes broke out in Bhima Koregaon and its surrounding villages after some people reportedly carrying saffron flags pelted stones on cars going towards Vijay Stambh.