Bombay HC pulls up jail officials for denying eyeglasses to Gautam Navlakha

Published on Dec 09, 2020 07:32 AM IST

The court’s comments came a day after Navlakha’s partner Sahba Hussain alleged that the 70-year-old activist, who is facing charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, found that his spectacles had been stolen inside jail, and that prison authorities didn’t permit a replacement.

Navlakha has been in Taloja jail since his arrest on October 1, 2018.(AP file photo)
Navlakha has been in Taloja jail since his arrest on October 1, 2018.(AP file photo)
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | ByKanchan Chaudhari

The Bombay high court on Tuesday criticised authorities at Mumbai’s Taloja jail for refusing to give activist Gautam Navlakha, who is currently in jail in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case, a pair of spectacles and called for workshops for jail officials.

The court’s comments came a day after Navlakha’s partner Sahba Hussain alleged that the 70-year-old activist, who is facing charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, found that his spectacles had been stolen inside jail, and that prison authorities didn’t permit a replacement.

“We gather from news reports that Navlakha has lost his spectacles in jail and when his family took him a new pair, the jail authorities refused to accept them,” said the bench of justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik. “Can this (spectacles) be denied,” the bench asked. “These are human considerations. Humanity is most important, everything else will follow subsequently,” the judges added.

The court was hearing separate petitions filed by Ramesh Gaichor and Sagar Gorkhe -- two other activists also arrested in the same case -- questioning their arrest.

Navlakha has been in Taloja jail since his arrest on October 1, 2018.

On Monday, Hussain said, “He [Navlakha] is allowed to speak to me only once a week. On November 30, he told me that his spectacles were stolen and that he was under stress. My question is how can spectacles be stolen inside the jail? Particularly, because he removes them only when he goes to sleep.”

She added that Navlakha’s spectacles were stolen on November 27 and that “It was an emergency, for he is close to being blind without his glasses. Yet, he was not permitted to call home for a replacement until three days later, but even that call proved futile.”

A senior jail official, requesting anonymity, said, “When Navlakha informed us about his spectacles being stolen, we told him that he has to look after his belongings. But we told him to give us his prescription...and we also asked him to inform his family to deliver it. We did not receive any response from him after that. Later, we received a courier which we do not accept because of security reasons.”

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Tuesday, November 29, 2022
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