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regular-article-logo Monday, 24 June 2024

Bombay HC grants bail to Gautam Navlakha, order stayed for 3 weeks for NIA to move SC

Last year, the NIA had opposed the activist’s bail plea, claiming that he had been introduced to a Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) general for his recruitment, which shows his nexus with the organisation

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi Published 20.12.23, 06:05 AM
Gautam Navlakha.

Gautam Navlakha. File picture

Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted bail to human rights activist Gautam Navlakha, who had been arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, but stayed its order for three weeks to give the National Investigation Agency (NIA) time to appeal against it in the Supreme Court.

Navlakha is currently under house arrest in Navi Mumbai and awaiting trial.

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A bench of Justices A.S. Gadkari and S.G. Dige granted Navlakha bail on a surety of Rs 1 lakh.

Last year, the NIA had opposed Navlakha’s bail plea, claiming that he had been introduced to a Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) general for his recruitment, which shows his nexus with the organisation.

The high court had, however, said the reasoning in the order of the special NIA court was cryptic and did not contain an analysis of the evidence relied upon by the prosecution’s view of this. The special court had then re-heard the plea on the same pleadings and rejected the bail plea, prompting the present appeal.

Last week, Delhi police were granted permission by a court to quiz Navlakha in Mumbai in the NewsClick case. The news portal, of which Navlakha is a shareholder, is accused of illegally obtaining funds from China.

Sixteen intellectuals, academics, lawyers and activists have been arrested in connection with an investigation into alleged Maoist links to an Ambedkarite event called Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017, which was followed by caste clashes the next day at Koregaon village on the banks of the Bhima river near Pune that claimed one life.

Scholar-activist Anand Teltumbde, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Mahesh Raut are out on regular bail, while Telugu litterateur Varavara Rao is out on bail on health grounds. Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old Jesuit activist of Jharkhand, died of post-Covid complications while in judicial custody in Mumbai in 2021. Navlakha is the seventh accused in the case to be granted bail.

Navlakha will turn 71 on Friday. He was first arrested in 2018 and had to move the special NIA court last year along with a co-accused after their mosquito nets were taken away by prison officials. Given his failing health, he was allowed house arrest in Navi Mumbai.

With additional inputs from PTI

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