The Supreme Court agreed to list for hearing on Friday a fresh plea of activist Gautam Navlakha, who has not been put under house arrest despite the apex court’s direction in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud on Thursday took note of the submissions of senior lawyer Nitya Ramakrishnan, appearing for Navlakha, that the apex court’s November 10 direction to shift him from Navi Mumbai’s Taloja prison to house arrest owing to his deteriorating health has not been compiled with so far.
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Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for the NIA, said the accused, instead of giving the address of his house, has given the address of the library-cum-office of the Communist Party and moreover, a separate plea would also be filed during the day.
“The Communist Party, in any case, is not a banned organisation,” Ramakrishnan said.
The SG said the probe agency was also in the process of filing an application and both the pleas can be listed together.
The CJI suggested that the plea of Navlakha be listed on Friday and the probe agency can mention its application before the bench.
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The law officer, referring to some facts of the case, said both the applications needed to be heard together on Friday. The submissions were allowed.
On November 15, the top court cleared the hurdle for the release of Navlakha from Navi Mumbai’s Taloja prison by waiving the requirement of a solvency certificate for availing the benefit of house arrest. Prior to this, the top court had on November 10 allowed the 70-year-old Navlakha to be placed under house arrest owing to his deteriorating health.
It had said that to avail the facility of house arrest, Navlakha will provide local surety of Rs 2 lakh by November 14.
While ordering that Navlakha be placed under house arrest, the bench comprising Justice K M Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy had noted that the activist has been in custody since April 14, 2020, and prima facie there was no reason to reject his medical report.
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It had said that Navlakha does not have any criminal background except this case and even the Government of India had appointed him as interlocutor to hold talks with Maoists.
Putting a number of conditions, it had also said Navlakha will not be allowed to use a computer and Internet during his house arrest.
“Petitioner will not use a computer, Internet or any other communication device while under house arrest. He will, however, be permitted to use a mobile phone without Internet, provided by police personnel on duty, once a day for 10 minutes in the presence of the police,” the bench said.
The apex court had also said that Navlakha shall not be allowed to leave Mumbai and he will not attempt, in any manner, to influence witnesses during his house arrest.
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Television and newspapers will be allowed, but these cannot be Internet-based, it had said.
It had allowed the Maharashtra Police to search and inspect the residence and said the accommodation would be under surveillance.
Navlakha would not be allowed to leave the house except for walks in the company of police personnel, it said. He would also be permitted to meet his lawyers as per Jail Manual rules and intimate police personnel in case of a medical emergency, the apex court had said.
The activist had appealed to the apex court against the April 26 order of the Bombay High Court dismissing his plea for house arrest over apprehensions of lack of adequate medical and other basic facilities in Taloja jail near Mumbai, where he is lodged.
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The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claim triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.