SC declines NIA plea to recall Navlakha’s house arrest order

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday declined the plea of NIA seeking to vacate the order allowing the shifting of Gautam Navlakha, accused in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case, to house arrest from the Taloja prison.
A bench of justices K.M. Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy also put certain additional conditions for the house arrest of Navlakha, such as the sealing of the kitchen door leading to the exit and locking of the grills of the hall.
“Application by NIA to vacate the order is dismissed. We are of the view that certain further safeguards need to be engrafted which will be in addition to what we have already ordered,” the bench said.
NIA has filed a fresh application seeking to vacate the order allowing the shifting of Navlakha to house arrest from the Taloja prison in Mumbai where he is lodged.
The NIA also said that the medical reports cited by Navlakha, which were relied upon by the court to grant him relief, are biased since they are prepared by Jaslok hospital, where the main doctor, Dr S Kothari, who is his direct brother-in-law.
However, Navlakha through his counsel Nitya Ramakrishnan complained that probe agencies were asked to inspect the premises where Navlakha was to be shifted within 48 hours on November 10 however till date he has not been shifted.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for NIA contended that the message which goes is ‘though everyone is equal some are more equal than others’.
“There are more inmates of the same age and medical conditions but they cannot go home but he is not going home even. This is not a review. This order was passed in ignorance of certain facts,” he added.
Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju also appearing for NIA said that the location of house arrest is misleading. The public library (where Navlakha wants to stay) belongs to the Communist Party of India.
To this Justice, Joseph replied, Communist party is a recognised party of India, what is the issue?
Raju further contended that there was the suppression of fact before this court and this was a grave suppression on medical records and then location.
It was said that there was only one exit but it was misleading, the flat has two exits, he added. Justice Roy then said that Navlakha could not have gone there unless a recce was carried out by the police officers, now it has been done so measures can be taken.
“Because of a series of misleading statements he cannot be put under house arrest. It’s impossible to monitor this place. The place is not fit for the person having this ailment,” Raju said.
Senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan said they didn’t know how many exit it has. We said it’s a floor above the library. It has been used as a residential unit in the past. It is not used for any political purpose. No member of the public goes to read there. It is a long empty hall with a kitchen and bathroom,” she told the bench.
The lawyer said the connection with Jaslok hospital was known and they had informed the High court. As the NIA was objecting to the house arrest, Justice Roy said, “SG and ASG saying that we cannot keep a 70-year-old ailing man in house confinement with all might of the state!”
Solicitor General replied that Navlakha has ISI links and Jammu and Kashmir terrorist links.
However, the bench declined NIA’s application to recall the house arrest order.
On 10 November, the bench in an interim order permitted Navlakha to be placed under house arrest for a period of one month considering his health condition and old age.