Civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha was first arrested in connected with this case in August 2018 when the case was probed by the Maharashtra Police. After NIA took over the probe last year, Navlakha surrendered in April 2020. (HT PHOTO).
Civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha was first arrested in connected with this case in August 2018 when the case was probed by the Maharashtra Police. After NIA took over the probe last year, Navlakha surrendered in April 2020. (HT PHOTO).

Supreme Court issues notice on Gautam Navlakha’s plea for default bail

  • Navlakha claimed in his petition filed through advocate Shadan Farasat that the 90-day period for filing of charge sheet was over and he was entitled to default bail under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
By Abraham Thomas
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 12:49 AM IST

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice on a petition filed by civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha seeking default bail in a case pertaining to the Bhima-Koregaon violence being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

A bench of Justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph issued notice to NIA and posted the matter for hearing on March 15. Navlakha claimed in his petition filed through advocate Shadan Farasat that the 90-day period for filing of charge sheet was over and he was entitled to default bail under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Earlier, the Bombay High Court had on February 8 rejected the plea of the activist, who is facing serious charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged links with banned Maoist organization – Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Navlakha stated in his petition that the 34 days of detention under house arrest should also be calculated as part of the custody undergone by him for the purposes of Section 167(2) CrPC.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal who appeared for Navlakha submitted that the 34 days period from August 28, 2018 to October 1, 2018 was crucial to his custody, in addition to the 11 days police custody (April 14, 2020 to April 25, 2020) and 46 days of judicial custody (April 25, 2020 to June 10, 2020).

The HC refused to accept this plea. It had said that the order of keeping Navlakha under house arrest was already declared “illegal” by the Delhi High Court and hence this unlawful detention cannot be added under the period of arrest.

Navlakha was first arrested in connected with this case in August 2018 when the case was probed by the Maharashtra Police. After NIA took over the probe last year, Navlakha surrendered in April 2020.

The HC said, “It is not possible for us to fathom a situation where detention of the appellant (Navlakha) though held to be illegal and unlawful rendering the authorization by the Magistrate untenable should still be construed as an authorized detention for the purpose of Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.”

During the period of house arrest, he was not allowed to meet anybody and even the NIA did not have access to him. Further, the HC observed that the period of house arrest from August 28-October 10, 2018 cannot be treated as detention for purposes of investigation that resulted in deprivation of his personal liberty.

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