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Bombay HC Rejects Elgar Parishad Accused Navlakha’s Bail Plea 

On 16 December 2020, the HC had finished hearing arguments and reserved its ruling on Gatuam Navlakha’s plea.

Published
India
2 min read
File image of civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha.
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The Bombay High Court on Monday, 8 February rejected the bail plea of civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha, one of the accused in the Elgaar Parishad-Maoist links case.

The bench comprising Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik passed the order on Navlakha’s criminal appeal against the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court’s ruling in July 2020, which had rejected his default bail application, Live Law reported.

The court noted, “We have gone through NIA Court order. We see no reason to interfere in the same,” The Indian Express quoted.

On 16 December 2020, the HC had finished hearing arguments and reserved its ruling on Navlakha’s plea.

Navlakha’s senior counsel Kapil Sibal had submitted that the house arrest in 2018 had restricted the accused’s movement, following an order by the court, making his plea for default bail under Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) valid.

“Navlakha was under custody even when he was under house arrest. His freedom and movement were restricted under the same. Nature of custody was changed, but it was an arrest nonetheless…” Sibal argued, The Indian Express quoted.

Sibal further noted that that the activist surrendered on 14 April last year in Delhi before NIA after his bail pleas were dismissed by the HC and the Supreme Court, and that the application for extension of time was filed by the NIA on 29 June, 2020.

Therefore, Sibal argued, “He has cumulatively spent 93 days in custody.”

While activist had sought default bail on the grounds that NIA had failed to file a chargesheet within the stipulated period of 90 days, the investigating agency claimed that the of 34-day house arrest between 29 August and 1 October, 2018, was declared ‘illegal’ by the Delhi High Court and hence, would not be included in the period of detention, The Indian Express noted.

Representing the NIA, additional Solicitor General SV Raju opposed the plea and stated that the period of ‘house arrest’ cannot be counted in the period of custody, as the date of production of accused before the magistrate was relevant for computing 90 days and not the date of arrest.

Navlakha was arrested by the Maharashtra Police on 28 August 2018 in relation with an FIR lodged after the 'Elgar Parishad' held on 31 December 2017 as well as the violence of Bhima Koregaon which followed. The police had claimed to uncover a Maoist conspiracy amid a clampdown on activists and academics that were connected to the conference.

(With inputs from The Indian Express)

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