Elgar Parishad case: NIA opposes Gautam Navlakha’s plea to be shifted to Alibag house

Gautam Navlakha, house arrest, SC, NIA
Gautam Navlakha | PTI File

The NIA on Monday opposed a plea by activist Gautam Navlakha, who is under house arrest in a public library in Mumbai in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, that he be shifted to a house in Alibag area of Maharashtras Raigad.

A bench of Justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna was told by Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the National Investigation Agency and the Maharashtra government, that shifting Navlakha is not feasible as the house in Alibag is 110 kilometres from the trial court and it takes nearly three-and-a-half-hours to reach.

“The second problem is that the house in Alibag area is located in a residential area where it is very difficult to cordon off. Hence, it is not feasible keeping in mind the security aspect in mind,” he said. Raju also said the petitioner had earlier sought being moved from a jail to house arrest on health grounds and saying they were not getting good health facilities, but the area they now seek to be shifted to does not have any super speciality hospital.

“So the ground taken by them for house arrest was a farce,” he said.

Senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, appearing for 70-year-old Navlakha, opposed the NIA submission and said they can negotiate with the probe agency the area where he can be put under house arrest. “The house at Alibag is in the same district as Taloja jail, where he was lodged How does the distance matter?” Ramakrishnan said.

The bench asked Raju to put the objection of the agency in writing and posted the matter for further hearing on August 18.

While ordering his house arrest on November 10 last year, the apex court had initially directed Navlakha to deposit Rs 2.4 lakh as the expenses to be borne by the state for making available police personnel to effectively facilitate placing him under house arrest.

The direction was passed by the court after the NIA had submitted that a total bill of Rs 66 lakh was pending.

On April 28, the top court had directed Navlakha to deposit another Rs 8 lakh for making available police personnel for his security.

Ramakrishnan said they are in the process of making the payment of the amount as directed by the court.

On November 10, 2022, the top court had allowed Navlakha, who was then lodged in Navi Mumbais Taloja prison in connection with the case, to be placed under house arrest owing to his deteriorating health.

Noting that the activist has been in custody since April 14, 2020, and prima facie there is no reason to reject his medical report, it had said Navlakha does not have any criminal background except for this case and even the government of India had appointed him as an interlocutor to hold talks with Maoists.

The top court has extended the activists tenure of his house arrest several times.

On February 17, Navlakha had withdrawn from the apex court his application seeking to be shifted to Delhi from Mumbai under house arrest.  Navlakha has told the top court through his counsel that he will look for some other place to stay in Mumbai.

On January 9, the Supreme Court had said its interim order placing Navlakha under house arrest will continue till the next date of hearing.

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

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)