Elgar Parishad case: Bombay HC grants bail to Gautam Navlakha

In November last year, the Supreme Court placed the 70-year-old on house arrest with the condition he would not leave Mumbai.

The Bombay High Court granted bail to activist Gautam Navlakha in the Elgar Parishad case on Tuesday, December 19.

A division bench headed by Justice A S Gadkari said Navlakha’s plea seeking bail was “allowed”.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) urged the court to stay operation of the order for a period of six weeks so that it could file an appeal in the Supreme Court. The bench stayed the order for three weeks.
Navlakha, who was arrested in August 2018, was in November last year permitted by the Supreme Court to be placed under house arrest. He is residing in Navi Mumbai at present.

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The high court granted Navlakha bail on a surety of Rs 1 lakh. He is the seventh accused in the case to be granted bail. This is his second round of appeal in the high court seeking regular bail. He had earlier moved the high court after the special NIA court rejected his regular bail plea in September last year.

The NIA had then opposed Navlakha’s bail plea, claiming that he had been introduced to a Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) General for his recruitment, which shows his nexus with the organisation.

The high court had, however, opined that the reasoning in the order of the special court was cryptic and did not contain analysis of the evidence relied upon by the prosecution’s view of this. The high court had ruled that the bail application requires fresh hearing by the special court, and had remanded the case back to the court. It had also directed the special judge to conclude the hearing within four weeks.

In November last year, the Supreme Court placed the 70-year-old on house arrest with the condition he would not leave Mumbai. The court also directed no usage of any form of communication or electronic device such as laptop, or computer. The police would give him a mobile phone for ten minutes to use the internet.

“We observe that the petitioner and companion are expected to scrupulously adhere to all conditions. Any deviation will be viewed seriously and may entail immediate cancellation of the order,” the Apex Court bench had said.

The case relates to 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 alleged that the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links. The police registered an FIR on January 8, 2018, under the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) later took over the probe into the matter.

(With PTI inputs)

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