NIA moves SC against Navlakha’s house arrest order, says he doesn’t deserve any extra leeway


The National Investigation Agency on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking vacation of its order allowing the plea of jailed activist Gautam Navlakha, incarcerated in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case, to be put under house arrest. Contending Navlakha need not be given any special treatment, the NIA said in its application that he being a charge-sheeted accused in a case involving threat to national security and integrity, does not deserve any extra leeway.

The anti-terror agency, while referring to the evidence on record, claimed Navlakha was working in urban areas and assigned the job to unite intellectuals against government forces to defeat them.

“From the investigation carried out, it is established that the petitioner delivered speeches at different forums & programmes on many issues related to the Kashmiri separatist movement and Maoist movement and supported it.

“During scrutiny of the documents seized from the petitioner it is evident that they are related to CPI (Maoist) strategic documents, documents in connection with the formation of the CPI (Maoist) party, important press releases of CPI (Maoist) party, critical secret communications with underground senior leaders of the party which establishes his deep involvement in the activities of CPI (Maoist) party,” the agency said in its plea.
Alleging that Navlakha’s medical report of Jaslok hospital is “vitiated”, the agency said proper treatment has been given to him whenever required, and his condition is manageable within the premises of Taloja central jail.

“It is submitted that it is clear from the publicly available record that Dr. S. Kothari has been associated with Jaslok Hospital since 1979 i.e. about 43 years. It is not unreasonable to assume that the said doctor, being on a very senior position in the said hospital, would yield considerable influence in the said hospital.

“It is submitted that considering the fact that a senior doctor of the said hospital is directly related to the petitioner and was a part of the (team) preparing medical report of the petitioner, that a clear case of personal bias vitiates the said report has been made out by the respondent,” it said.

The agency said it has come to light that Navlakha is an active member of CPI (Maoist) and has “deep links” with the organisation.

He espouses Maoist ideology and anti-government utterances through his various lectures and videos make it evident, it said.

“It is reiterated that the Petitioner is a charge-sheeted accused in a serious case involving unlawful activities under the UAPA including but not limited to working for the banned organization – CPI-Maoist, recruiting members for the said banned organization and further liaison with ISI Pakistan.

“The special court has taken cognizance and is at the stage of framing of charge and the High court has expedited the trial and ordered the same to be conducted on a day to day basis. In light of the same, it is requested that the Petitioner ought not be allowed to avail the special facility of house arrest and be treated in the manner that all such accused of such serious offences are treated with across the country,” it said.

Casting doubt over the address given by Navlakha for keeping him under house arrest, the agency said it has evaluated the premises and it is clear that rather than being a residential premise it is a public library building under the control of a political party.

“It is further humbly submitted that, the said hall/premises is public library having access to all and therefore not safe from the view of safety and security of accused Gautam Navlakha.

“It is clear from the perusal of the above that the suggestion of the petitioner for house arrest to be carried out in the so-called house was clearly another attempt to mislead this Court, abuse the process and to avail extraordinary relief otherwise not available,” the NIA’s plea said.

The top court had on November 10 allowed the 70-year-old Navlakha to be placed under house arrest owing to his deteriorating health.

It had said to avail the facility of house arrest, Navlakha will provide local surety of Rs 2 lakh by November 14.

While ordering that Navlakha be placed under house arrest, the bench comprising Justices K M Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy had noted the activist has been in custody since April 14, 2020 and prima facie there was no reason to reject his medical report.

It said Navlakha does not have any criminal background except for the present case and even the Government of India had appointed him as interlocutor to hold talks with Maoists.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017 which the police claim triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.


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