More than a week after the Supreme Court’s order, Bhima Koregaon case accused Gautam Navlakha was Saturday released from Taloja Central Prison. He will now be placed under house arrest at a community hall in Navi Mumbai owned by the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Navlakha’s release comes a day after the apex court dismissed a plea by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to vacate its November 10 judgment allowing the house arrest, and directed its order be effected within 24 hours.
Meanwhile, a special court in Mumbai hearing cases related to the National Investigation Agency, had issued the release memo to facilitate Navlakha’s month-long house arrest, news agency PTI reported. The investigating agency earlier today submitted to the special court the compliance report about completing the release formalities of the activist, after which the court issued the release memo.
The top court had allowed Navlakha to be placed under house arrest due to his deteriorating health. Giving out its order, the court also imposed certain conditions, including CCTV surveillance, restrictions on use of phone, and no access to Internet. The court has allowed Navlakha’s partner, Sahba Husain, instead of his sister, to stay with him.
The NIA had objected to the house arrest citing security concerns over the chosen premises. Appearing for the NIA, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General S V Raju told the court that the building belongs to the Communist party and that it was not a flat but part of a public library.
Dismissing the NIA plea, the Supreme Court warned the probe agency that “if you are trying to find a loophole to defy our order, we will take a serious view of it”.
To address some of the concerns raised by the NIA over the security of the place, the bench added some “additional safeguards” to the conditions already laid down in the previous order.
On the argument that the building was owned by the CPI(M), the court said it is a recognised political party of the coutry.
Earlier on Wednesday, the top court had waived the solvency certificate requirement for the 73-year-old activist’s release from Taloja jail for house arrest.
Navlakha is facing UAPA charges in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case. The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017. Police claim these speeches triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial. The Pune police had claimed the conclave was organised by people with Maoist links. The NIA later took over the probe.