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Gautam Navlakha to be taken to Tata hospital to examine lump in chest, Bombay HC told

Gautam Navlakha also said that despite the Apex Court's directions that prison officials should not deny essential items to inmates, the Taloja jail has denied him a chair and slippers.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
September 2, 2021 6:23:34 pm
Bhima Koregaon case, Gautam NavlakhaGautam Navlakha. (File)

The Maharashtra Prison department Thursday informed the Bombay High Court that it will take 70-year-old Gautam Navlakha, an activist and accused in the Elgar Parishad case, to the government-run Tata Memorial Centre, Kharghar, for a medical check-up tomorrow.

The court was hearing Navlakha’s plea seeking examination of a lump in his chest, and urging that he be placed under house arrest in view of his advanced age and medical ailments.

The HC also asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the state prison department to file affidavits, within two weeks, in reply to Navlakha’s plea seeking his transfer from Taloja Central Prison, Navi Mumbai, alleging denial of basic medical care and other necessities in jail.

Navlakha cited the Supreme Court ruling of May this year, wherein the top court had dismissed his default bail plea and said that in certain appropriate cases, under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), house arrest may be ordered in view of the accused persons’ health, age and antecedents.

“Around March 2021, the petitioner developed a lump on the right side of his chest. This is extremely worrying considering the history of cancer in his family,” the plea said, and added that despite several requests to prison authorities, he was not taken for medical investigation.

“Because of the negligence and stubborn refusal of officials of Taloja Prison, the ailments and medical concerns of inmates go undiagnosed and untreated for long periods of time,” the petition stated.

Represented by advocates Yug Mohit Chaudhry and Payoshi Roy, Navlakha also said that despite the Apex Court’s directions that prison officials should not deny essential items to inmates, the Taloja jail authority has denied things like a chair and slippers to him.

“Taloja is sorely lacking in infrastructure and manpower and incapable of caring for ailing and elderly inmates such as the petitioner,” the petition claimed.

Chaudhry said that as Navlakha’s sister works with the private Jaslok Hospital in south Mumbai, it will be convenient for him to get examined there, for which he will bear the cost.

However, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for NIA submitted that while he could not oppose taking the accused for treatment, he was objecting to the petitioner getting a choice of hospital.

Singh said, “Applications are filed these days saying I want to go to so and so hospital…The government hospitals are good enough. We are not saying he is not entitled to treatment. He can be taken to Tata Memorial Hospital for Cancer treatment. People throughout the country come there for treatment.”

Chaudhry said opposition for medical examination at Jaslok Hospital was “vindictive” and unnecessary, as there would be no “financial burden on the state” with Navlakha bearing the costs.

After the bench sought to know from Chaudhry why there was no prayer seeking examination by Jaslok Hospital and if he would file a separate application for it, Chaudhry said Navlakha should be sent to Tata Hospital, as there cannot be “further delay” in the check-up.

The HC will hear the plea next on September 27.

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