NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Maharashtra government on a plea by jailed activist Gautam Navlakha seeking to be placed under house arrest, rather than judicial custody in the Bhima Koregaon case.
A bench comprising justices K.M. Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy sought response from the NIA and the Maharashtra government and scheduled the hearing on the matter on September 29.
Navlakha’s counsel submitted that his client had approached the high court citing top court’s May last year order, passed on his plea, where it had said that courts could consider house arrest of accused in view of overcrowding in jails. The counsel contended that his client moved the Bombay High Court and he fulfils all the criteria the court had laid down and added that his client is 70-year-old and not in a good medical condition, and he had been under house arrest before.
The top court was informed that there are allegations about commission of offences covered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against Navlakha, but none of those are made out against him.
The counsel urged that Navlakha can be put under house arrest either in Mumbai or in Delhi.
On August 29, Supreme Court judge justice S Ravindra Bhat had recused from hearing Navlakha’s plea.
Navlakha moved the apex court challenging Bombay High Court judgment passed in April, dismissing his plea to be transferred from Taloja Prison and placed under house arrest instead. In August 2018, he was arrested and initially placed under house arrest. In April 2020, after an apex court order he was moved to Taloja Central Prison in Maharashtra.
In the high court, Navlakha had contended that he was being denied basic medical aid and other necessities in Taloja and also cited his advanced age.
Earlier, the apex court had granted bail to 82-year-old activist P Varavara Rao in the case. — IANS
Photo: Gautam Naulakha