THE Bombay High Court on Tuesday dismissed the petition filed by Bhima Koregaon (Elgar Parishad) violence accused activist and journalist Gautam Navlakha, which sought a transfer from Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail to house arrest instead.
The judgement was delivered by a bench of Justices S.B. Shukre and G.A. Sanap, which granted liberty to Navlakha to bring any grievances with respect to difficulties faced by him, to the attention of the presiding officer of National Investigation Agency [NIA]’s special court. The Bench further directed the Taloja jail superintendent to take care of Navlakha’s needs, and also directed the special NIA judge to ensure that his grievances were redressed within the parameters of law.
The septuagenarian Navlakha was first arrested from his home in Delhi in August 2018, and initially placed under house-arrest. Following a Supreme Court decision, he was later shifted to the Taloja jail in April 2020.
His lawyer Yug Mohit Chaudhry moved the high court after relying on this Supreme Court judgement in his own default bail case. Chaudhry submitted that his client was being denied basic medical facilities in prison and was suffering from various age-related illnesses.
Earlier, prison authorities refused his request for a new pair of spectacles, following which the court rapped the prison officials, and the spectacles were only given after media and legal intervention.
Navlakha’s counsel had also submitted before the court that there was no question of his client tampering with evidence since multiple chargesheets had already been filed and he had shown appropriate conduct while under house-arrest earlier.
Meanwhile, the NIA’s counsel opposed the plea for house-arrest on the grounds that Navlakha should have first approached the special NIA court before going to the High Court. Its lawyers also argued that there were several practical and logistical difficulties that would open up if his house-arrest was granted.