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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Elgaar Parishad case: Bombay HC rejects Gautam Navlakha’s default bail plea

The HC on December 16, 2020, had concluded hearing arguments and reserved its ruling on Navlakha's plea.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: February 8, 2021 2:44:36 pm
Navlakha, Babu: Books sent by family not accepted, returned by jail authoritiesAcademician Gautam Navlakha

The Bombay High Court on Monday rejected criminal appeal by Gautam Navlakha, one of the accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, against the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court’s July 12, 2020 ruling that rejected his default bail plea.

“We have gone through NIA Court order. We see no reason to interfere in the same,” the Court noted while pronouncing the ruling.

The HC on December 16, 2020, had concluded hearing arguments and reserved its ruling on Navlakha’s plea.

Navlakha had sought default bail on the grounds that NIA, the investigating agency had failed to file a chargesheet within the stipulated period of 90 days. The NIA, however, claimed that the period of 34 days of Navlakha’s house arrest between August 29 and October 1, 2018, was termed ‘illegal’ by the Delhi High Court and hence it cannot be included in the period of detention.

A division bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik, which was hearing Navlakha’s plea, was informed by senior counsel Kapil Sibal that the ‘house arrest’ in 2018 had restricted Navlakha and therefore his plea for default bail under Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) was valid.

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

“If 34 days (of house arrest) are counted, the NIA’s application is beyond 90 days and the same is not maintainable and therefore Navlakha is entitled to default bail. He has cumulatively spent 93 days in custody,” Sibal argued.

However, Additional Solicitor General S V Raju representing the NIA opposed the plea stating that the period of ‘house arrest’ cannot be counted as the date of production of accused before the magistrate was relevant for computing 90 days and not the date of arrest.

Raju had further argued that as the Delhi High Court had deemed the period of Navlakha’s detention from August 29 to October 1, 2018, as ‘illegal,’ it could not be considered while calculating the period of the arrest.

The detailed order will be made available in due course.

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