Navlakha’s house arrest delayed over safety now

Published on Nov 17, 2022 12:47 AM IST

Elgar Parishad case accused Gautam Navlakha’s shifting from jail to house arrest has been further delayed, as the special NIA court on Wednesday refused to allow Taloja Jail to shift the human rights activist out. This was done after the NIA objected to the chosen property at Belapur in Navi Mumbai, belonging to the Communist Party of India, saying it was not a safe place

NIA opposed the plea, contending that the building housed a public library that everyone had access to and therefore it would be very difficult to keep a vigil on the accused. The agency also pointed out that there were three entry and exit points to the building and no CCTV cameras covering the back entry. (HT PHOTO)
NIA opposed the plea, contending that the building housed a public library that everyone had access to and therefore it would be very difficult to keep a vigil on the accused. The agency also pointed out that there were three entry and exit points to the building and no CCTV cameras covering the back entry. (HT PHOTO)

Mumbai: Elgar Parishad case accused Gautam Navlakha’s shifting from jail to house arrest has been further delayed, as the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Wednesday refused to allow Taloja Jail to shift the human rights activist out. This was done after the NIA objected to the chosen property at Belapur in Navi Mumbai, belonging to the Communist Party of India, saying it was not a safe place.

“Since there is a strong objection on the part of the prosecution against keeping the accused in the premises on account of safety and security of the accused, it would not be proper to keep the accused under house arrest in the said premises,” said the special NIA court.

The court was referring to the Comrade BT Ranadive Smriti Trust building in Agroli village where Navlakha intended to spend his one-month house arrest in a 41-foot-square hall with two attached bathrooms.

Navlakha’s lawyers on Wednesday informed the court that they had deposited an amount of 2.40 lakh with the Navi Mumbai police commissioner as costs towards police escorts and security charges. They said that they had also given the NIA a list of two relatives and two lawyers who would be allowed to visit Navlakha during his house arrest. Pointing out that they had got CCTV cameras installed at the entry points of the building, they urged the court to allow him to shift to the place.

NIA opposed the plea, contending that the building housed a public library that everyone had access to and therefore it would be very difficult to keep a vigil on the accused. The agency also pointed out that there were three entry and exit points to the building and no CCTV cameras covering the back entry.

The special NIA court also took into consideration the fact that the NIA was to submit its assessment report on the premises selected by Navlakha before the apex court, and adjourned the matter to November 25, observing that in view of the serious objections of the prosecution, it would not be appropriate to shift the accused to the premises till the apex court passed further directions.

The Supreme Court on November 10 allowed Navlakha to shift to house arrest for one month on account of his advanced age and poor health. He was ordered to be released from Taloja Jail, where he is presently lodged, to the house of his choice on furnishing a surety of 2 lakh.

The NIA court on Wednesday accepted famous actor Suhasini Mulay as surety for the human rights activist. Mulay was personally present before the court on Wednesday after the NIA filed a report of verification of her identity and residence proof documents.

The Elgar Parishad case was registered by the Vishrambag police in Pune on January 8, 2018, based on a complaint lodged by a local builder, Tushar Damgude, alleging that members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) had incited violence by creating communal disharmony. He claimed that members of the Kabir Kala Manch spread hatred through provocative songs, plays and speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad event at Shanivar Wada on December 31, 2017, which gave rise to widespread violence the next day at the historical site of Bhima Koregaon in Pune district and other parts of the state.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Charul Shah is senior reporter covering the legal beat for Hindustan Times. She has spent over a decade in the industry covering criminal investigations and judiciary from Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru.

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