Humanity most important: Bombay high court on Gautam Navlakha being denied spectacles in Taloja jail
It’s high time that workshops are conducted for jail officials, the Bombay high court said on Tuesday while reacting to Taloja jail officials’ refusal to accept new spectacles sent by the family of 70-year-old Gautam Navlakha, a civil liberties and human rights activist arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case and in judicial custody.
Navlakha has been in Taloja jail since his arrest on October 1, 2018. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has alleged that till August 2018, he was a member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
On Monday, Navlakha’s partner Sahba Hussain had said, “He 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.”
In a media release, Sahba said 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.”
“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, both arrested in Bhima Koregaon case, questioning their arrest.