The Supreme Court on Thursday was told by the counsel appearing for Gautam Navlakha, accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence case of 2018, that the apex court’s order directing that he be placed under house arrest, was not being complied with by the State authorities.
Senior Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, appearing for Navlakha, mentioned the matter before a bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices Hima Kohli and JB Pardiwala that probe agencies were asked to inspect the premises where Navlakha was to be shifted within 48 hours.
Ramakrishnan said, “They were supposed to inspect premises within 48 hours and not within 96 hours. The order was on November 10. The order is not being followed.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the National Investigation Agency (NIA), told the top court that instead of providing details of a house where he wants to be placed under house arrest, Navlakha has given details of a library-cum-residential place belonging to the Communist Party.
“He is a Maoist and we objected to it, but now instead of the house he has given the address of a library-cum-stay place of the Communist Party,” he said.
Ramakrishnan objects to the argument of the Solicitor General saying “it was mentioned that it is a library.”
Solicitor General told the apex court that the agency has filed an application seeking certain directions from the court and urged it to list the case. The bench then listed the matter for hearing tomorrow before the bench headed by Justice KM Joseph.
A bench of Justice Joseph in an interim order permitted Navlakha to be placed under house arrest for a period of one month considering his health condition and old age.
The Maharashtra government was asked to carry out a necessary evaluation of the place where Navlakha will be under house arrest, the bench had ordered, adding that after an evaluation he shall be placed under house arrest within 48 hours.
Navlakha had moved the top court requesting that he be placed under house arrest instead of judicial custody in Taloja jail, Maharashtra.
The apex court had imposed several conditions on Navlakha including he shall not use any mobile phone, laptop, communication device or gadget. He shall use the phone to be provided by police personnel on the duty. He will be able to use the phone once a day for 10 minutes in the presence of the police.
“He is been in custody since 2020. He was placed on house arrest on an earlier occasion… prima facie, no complaint that he misused earlier house arrest No criminal antecedents apart from this case against him… We would think that we should allow him to be under house arrest, at least, to begin with, for a period of one month,” the bench had said.
NIA had vehemently opposed Navlakha’s plea saying his condition has been improved and there was no need to put him under house arrest. The ASG SV Rahi had alleged that Navlakha is in touch with Kashmiri extremists and ISI and read out some documents.
Earlier, the apex court had allowed the Superintendent of Taloja prison in Maharashtra to shift jailed activist Navlakha to Mumbai’s Jaslok hospital for medical checkup and treatment. It had said that receiving medical treatment is a fundamental right of a prisoner. 70-year-old Navlakha had told the bench that he has colon cancer and requires a colonoscopy and also a check-up for skin allergies and dental issues.
Navlakha had moved the top court challenging the April 26 order of the Bombay High Court which had dismissed his plea for house arrest over apprehensions of lack of adequate medical and other basic facilities in Taloja jail near Mumbai where he is currently lodged.
The High Court had said Navlakha’s apprehensions about the lack of medical aid and inadequate basic facilities at the Taloja prison, were “ill-founded”.
He had approached the High Court saying the Taloja prison has poor facilities, overcrowded, and his medical condition deteriorated during his incarceration there.
Navlakha, one of the several civil liberties activists in the Bhima Koregaon case, has been booked under stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for an alleged conspiracy to topple the government.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had granted bail to 82-year-old activist P Varavara Rao in the case.