The Supreme Court sent a notice to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Maharashtra government on Tuesday in response to imprisoned activist Gautam Navlakha’s request that he be placed under house arrest rather than judicial custody in the Bhima Koregaon violence case.
A bench of Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy sought a response from the NIA and the State and posted the matter for hearing on September 29. “Counsel points out that the petitioner is 70 years old and has health conditions. He had also been placed under house arrest without any incidents. Issue notice. Liberty to serve the standing counsel. Matter to come up day after,” the bench stated in its order.
The 70-year-old activist has petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn an April 26 judgement by the Bombay High Court that denied his request for house arrest due to concerns about a lack of proper medical and other basic services in Taloja prison near Mumbai, where he is now incarcerated.
During the hearing, when the bench inquired about the nature of the crime for which Navlakha was arrested, his attorney informed the court that there are claims concerning the conduct of offences covered by the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, but none of them are proven against him.
Counsel further told the court that Navlakha may be placed under house arrest in Mumbai, where his two sisters live, or in Delhi.
Navlakha had approached the High Court saying the Taloja prison has poor facilities, overcrowded, and his medical condition deteriorated during his incarceration there.
Navlakha, one of the several civil liberties activists in the Bhima Koregaon case, has been booked under stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for an alleged conspiracy to topple the government.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had granted bail to 82-year-old activist P Varavara Rao in the case.