Supreme Court directs Gautam Navlakha to be placed under house arrest

Supreme Court directs Gautam Navlakha to be placed under house arrest

Navlakha (70) is an accused under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for his alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon violence.

Supreme Court on Thursday ordered civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha to be placed under house arrest for one month, accepting his plea to be taken out of Taloja Central Jail owing to his health ailments.

Navlakha (70) is an accused under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for his alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon violence.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the case against him, has accused him of having links with banned Naxal organisation – Communist Party of India (Maoist).

A bench of justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy said the order is being made on an experimental basis by allowing Navlakha to stay at a property in Belapur, Navi Mumbai with his 71-year-old partner, while imposing several conditions on him and his partner during their stay there.

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During custody, the Court held that the petitioner will not be permitted use of mobile, laptop, internet, or any communication device. His partner, though, will be allowed to use a basic mobile device for making calls and sending messages. Navlakha will be permitted to use phone of the police personnel to talk for 10 minutes duration and was forbidden from using the phone of his partner.

As he is still in custody and not out on bail, the Court directed Navlakha to first furnish two local sureties of ₹2 lakh each and make an upfront deposit of ₹2.40 lakh to the Maharashtra government for providing round the clock armed security personnel outside the house.

The NIA and state government were provided 48 hours to conduct screening of the premises and directed the petitioner to install CCTVs outside the entrance to the house and rooms.

No travel has been permitted to the petitioner, except a visit to the hospital in case of any medical emergency or to the Mumbai court during the trial of the case.

During his stay, the Court directed that no person will be allowed to meet the petitioner except two family members in a week. Their names shall be provided in advance by petitioner to NIA in three days.

According to the jail manual, as a prisoner is entitled to meet the lawyer, the Court allowed him this facility and directed the petitioner to provide in advance the names of the lawyers who will meet him during house custody.

However, due to his medical condition of lumbar and cervical spondylitis, besides high blood pressure, the Court allowed him permission to walk outside escorted by police personnel. He will also have access to television, newspapers and books.

The Court said that its order is not final and will be up for review after a month by when the petitioner has to furnish a fresh medical report of his health condition from KEM Hospital, based on which the Court will take a further call on extending his house arrest.

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