Bombay HC judge in Vernon Gonsalves case clarifies War and Peace referred to was Biswajit Roy's, not Tolstoy's

  • The observation by Justice Sarang Kotwal came a day after media reports said he asked accused Vernon Gonsalves to explain why he kept objectionable material like a copy of War and Peace at his home.

  • The purported remarks also stirred up thousands of reactions on Twitter.

  • The hashtag #WarAndPeace has been trending on the social media platform during the day.

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday, 29 August 2019, said it knew that Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace was a literary classic and that it didn't mean to suggest that all the books seized by Pune police in the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case were incriminating.

The observation by Justice Sarang Kotwal came a day after media reports said he asked accused Vernon Gonsalves to explain why he kept "objectionable material" like a copy of War and Peace at his home.

 Bombay HC judge in Vernon Gonsalves case clarifies War and Peace referred to was Biswajit Roys, not Tolstoys

The Bombay HC judge clarified that he knew of Tolstoy's classic, contrary to what had been suggested

The purported remarks also stirred up thousands of reactions on Twitter. The hashtag #WarAndPeace has been trending on the social media platform during the day.

The court's latest comments came after the counsel for Gonsalves informed it that none of the books seized from the activist's residence last year were banned by the government in accordance with CrPC provisions.

Justice Kotwal said, "You have made your point about the books not being banned. Besides, yesterday, I was reading the whole list from the chargesheet. It was written in such poor handwriting. I know War and Peace. I was making a query on the entire list that police has mentioned (as evidence)."

Yug Chaudhary, counsel for co-accused Sudha Bharadwaj, then told the court that the War and Peace that the court had referred to on Wednesday was a collection of essays edited by one Biswajit Roy, and was titled War and Peace in Junglemahal: People, State and Maoists.

On Wednesday, the court had asked, "War and Peace is about war in another country. Why were you keeping these books at your house?"

The judge had also referred to a CD titled Rajya Dhaman Virodhi and said the title "clearly suggested" it is material against the state. "Why were you keeping this in your house?" he had asked Gonsalves. "You will have to explain this to the court."

Gonsalves was arrested by the Pune police under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act after raids at residences and offices of several activists in connection with the Elgar Parishad case.

The police had claimed provocative speeches made at the Parishad on 31 December 2017 were responsible for the caste violence around Koregaon Bhima village in Pune district the next day during an event to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima.

One person was killed and others were injured in the violence. Dalits celebrate the anniversary of the Koregaon Bhima battle every year as they believe that the Army of the British comprising 'Mahars' or scheduled caste soldiers had defeated the forces of the Brahmin Peshwas. Police are probing alleged Naxal links in organising the Parishad, which was held at historic Shaniwarwada in Pune.

Other arrested accused in the case include activists and academics Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, and Gautam Navlakha.

Updated Date: Aug 29, 2019 17:55:12 IST