New Delhi, November 10
The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed Bhima Koregaon case accused Gautam Navalkha to be shifted from jail to 'house arrest' in Mumbai in view of his age and poor medical condition.
In an interim order, a Bench of Justice KM Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy placed him under 'house arrest' for a month in Mumbai with certain conditions.
The top court asked the NIA to evaluate in 48 hours the premises where Navlakha would be kept.
It restrained him from using mobile phones, internet, laptop or any other gadgets, communicating devices. CCTV cameras would be installed at the entry and exit gates of the house where he would be kept, it added.
The Bench, however, allowed the accused to use the mobile phone provided by the police for 10 minutes a day and meet family members three hours a day. He could not leave Mumbai/Navi Mumbai, it said, posting the matter for future hearing in December.
Additional Solicitor General AS Raju questioned the veracity of the medical report on the grounds that the board of doctors that examined Navlakha included his brother-in-law.
The Supreme Court had on Wednesday said it was considering allowing activist Gautam Navlakha’s plea seeking to be transferred from Taloja jail to ‘house custody’ in the Elgar Parishad case.
"He is a 70-year-old man. We don't know how long he will live. Certainly, he is going towards the inevitable. It's not that we are going to release him on bail. He is not going to enjoy the default bail which comrade Sudha (Bharadwaj) got...We are conscious that we have to tread carefully. We agree that house arrest as an alternative has to be used carefully,” it had said.
Navlakha has challenged the April 26 order of the Bombay High Court dismissing his plea seeking to be transferred from Taloja jail to ‘house custody’.
On behalf of the accused, senior counsel Kapil Sibal had cited his medical reports and said, “There's no way in the world you can get this kind of treatment/monitoring done in jail. He's had alarming weight loss. This kind of treatment is not possible in jail.”
Noting that an undertrial has a fundamental right to receive medical attention, the top court had on September 29 ordered Taloja Jail Superintendent to take the Bhima Koregaon case accused to a hospital of his choice for a thorough medical check-up.
"We have no right to make their life miserable; many undertrials are innocent. They are not animals, even animals we treat with care," it had said.
Earlier, the Bombay High Court had said Navlakha’s apprehensions about the lack of medical aid and inadequate basic facilities at the Taloja prison were “ill-founded.” Navlakha had alleged that the Taloja prison was overcrowded and the conditions and environment of the jail were not compatible with his health.
The case relates to the alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.
The Pune police had claimed that the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links. Later, the NIA took over the probe. Several activists and academics were arrested in the case, including Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Navlakha.
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