Maharashtra orders probe after jailed activist Gautam Navlakha denied spectacles
Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh has ordered an inquiry over allegations that activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, was denied spectacles sent by his family by jail authorities after his pair was “stolen”, adding that the situation should have been handled more “sensitively”.
The move comes two days after the Bombay High Court criticised authorities at Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail for refusing to hand over a pair of spectacles to the activist.
“Bhima-Koregaon case accused Gautam Navlakha denied spectacles by jail authorities as they refused to accept a parcel sent by his family. I have ordered an inquiry in this matter. I believe this situation should have been handled humanely and such incidents need to be avoided in future,” Deshmukh said.
“If the family has sent his spectacles, he should be given those. We need to handle these things more sensitively,” the minister added.
The 70-year-old activist is facing charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has alleged that till August 2018, he was a member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), a banned outfit. He is currently lodged at the Taloja jail.
Navlakha’s partner Sahba Hussain had alleged that the activist’s spectacles were stolen inside jail and that prison authorities did not permit a new pair sent by his family.
Taking cognisance of the matter, the bench of justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik on Tuesday said, “We gather from news reports that Navlakha has lost his spectacles in jail and when his family sent him a new pair, the jail authorities refused to accept them.”
“Can this (spectacles) be denied,” the bench asked. “These are human considerations. Humanity is most important, everything else will follow subsequently,” the court said.
The high court also emphasised on the need to sensitise the prison staff by holding workshops.