Bhima Koregaon: Bombay HC directs NIA to file reply on Gautam Navlakha’s fresh bail application, next hearing on July 25

Gautam Navlakha is an accused in the Bhima Koregaon–Elgar Parishad Maoist links and criminal conspiracy case under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. He has been an undertrial prisoner for almost three years. He is currently under house arrest. 


ON Wednesday, a division Bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justices A.S. Gadkari and Shivkumar Dige heard a fresh bail application filed by journalist and human rights activist Gautam Navlakha.

The Bench also directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to file its reply. The NIA counsel told the court that the reply would be filed by this evening or tomorrow.

On March 2 this year, the high court had directed the special NIA court to rehear the bail plea for its reconsideration. The court had averred that the special NIA court that had rejected Navlakha’s bail application on September 5, 2022 had done so without proper reasoning.

Also read: NIA opposes Gautam Navlakha’s plea for moving house arrest from Mumbai to Alibag

On April 6, after adjudicating and reconsidering the submissions, the special NIA court had again denied bail to Navlakha. 

On June 12, the high court issued a notice to the NIA on Navlakha’s fresh bail application.

Today, the Bench posted the matter for further hearing on July 25. 


Navlakha was arrested on August 28, 2018, for his alleged involvement in the Elgar Parishad–Maoists links case. While he was initially kept under house arrest, he was subsequently sent to judicial custody in April 2020. 

During his custody as an undertrial prisoner, a chargesheet was filed on October 9, 2020; charges are yet to be filed in the court.

In May 2021, the Supreme Court rejected Navlakha’s default bail on the ground that the 35 days he spent under house arrest in 2018 did not constitute custody in order to compute the 90-day period within which a chargesheet must be filed under criminal law to entitle him to bail.

Also read: Court asks NIA to provide Surendra Gadling copies of the police report and other documents under Section 207 CrPC

On October 12, 2021, Navlakha was shifted to the ‘anda circle’ (high-security zone) from the barracks at Taloja, further deteriorating his health, as claimed by his partner, Sahba Hussain.

On April 26 last year, the Bombay High Court dismissed Navlakha’s petition that sought to shift him from the Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai to house arrest.

On May 23, Navlakha approached the NIA to be provided with a mosquito net, which he was previously allowed but which was subsequently taken away by the prison authorities. 

Earlier, prison authorities had refused his request for a new pair of spectacles, which were given only after media and legal intervention.

The Maharashtra prison authority has also barred Navlakha from availing telephonic communication facilities in Taloja, in accordance with a circular signed by the state’s inspector general of police that provides that undertrial prisoners booked under charges of terrorism or other “serious charges” cannot make telephone calls from the prison.

On November 10 last year, the Supreme Court allowed Navlakha to be placed under house arrest for a period of one month under certain restrictions. 

On November 19, after hearing and incorporating further concerns of the NIA, the Bench dismissed the petition filed by the NIA to vacate the Order granting house arrest and directed the house arrest order to be implemented within 24 hours of its pronouncement.

Since then, his house arrest has been periodically extended by the court.

Also read: Five years of Bhima Koregaon arrests: CDRO marks ‘black day’

The prosecution in the case has filed a chargesheet exceeding 5,000 pages and intends to cross-examine at least 200 witnesses. Thirteen of the 16 accused persons are presently incarcerated, having now spent between two to almost five years in judicial custody without trial. 

Another accused, tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest Fr Stan Swamy, passed away in judicial custody in July 2021 after contracting COVID in prison while awaiting bail on medical grounds.

The Leaflet