Bhima Koregaon: Supreme Court directs parties to inspect Gautam Navlakha’s medical reports

As the Supreme Court is set to hear Navlakha’s plea for house arrest to facilitate his medical treatment, his latest medical reports assume significance.


ON Thursday, in Gautam Navlakha versus National Investigation Agency and Anr., a division bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices K.M. Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy, permitted the parties to inspect Navlakha’s medical reports sent by Jaslok Hospital, where he was taken for urgent medical examinations.

Seventy-year old journalist and human rights activist Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case, is charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and is awaiting trial.

Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta, appearing for the National Investigation Agency (‘NIA’), submitted that it was mutually requested by both the parties for the matter to be heard on a later date, preferably November 2. Acknowledging the large volume of Navlakha’s medical reports from his medical examinations, including the colonoscopy examination, the court directed an inspection of the report in the meantime.

The matter was posted for further hearing on November 9.

On September 29, the division bench declined to consider Navlakha’s plea to transfer him from Taloja Central Jail, where he is currently lodged, and place him in house arrest for two weeks to enable him to undergo colonoscopy for suspected cancer. The court, however, passed an urgent order directing the Superintendent of Taloja to immediately take Navlakha to Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai (as per the request of the petitioner) to undergo the necessary medical check-ups and treatments.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Navlakha, had highlighted Navlakha’s medical conditions urgently requiring a colonoscopy examination, and treatment for his poor eyesight, skin allergies and dental issues. Sibal had emphasised that only ayurvedic treatment was available at Taloja.

The court pointed out that Navlakha’s larger prayers of house arrest and bail remain standing and are not dismissed.


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.

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 ninety-day period within which a charge sheet must be filed under criminal law, to entitle him to the same. On October 12, 2021, Navlakha was shifted to the ‘anda circle’ (high security) from the barracks at Taloja, further deteriorating his health, as claimed by his partner, Sahba Hussain.

On April 26, the Bombay high court dismissed Navlakha’s petition that sought his transfer 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 was previously allowed but 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, as per a circular signed by the state’s Inspector General of Police that provides that undertrial prisoners booked for charges of terrorism or other “serious charges” cannot make telephone calls from the prison.

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 over four years in judicial custody without trial. Another accused, tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest Fr. Stan Swamy, having passed away in judicial custody in July last year after contracting COVID in prison while awaiting bail on medical grounds.

The Leaflet