Thursday, February 9, 2023

SC Notice On NIA Plea Over Delhi HC Order Questioning Navlakha’s Transfer To Mumbai

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday has issued notice on a plea filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) challenging order of the Delhi High Court dated May 27th that had asked for record of proceedings before Special NIA Courts in Delhi & Mumbai based on which Gautam Navlakha was transferred from Delhi to Mumbai.

A three judge Bench comprising of Justice Arun Mishra, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice Indira Banerjee has stayed the Gautam Navlakha’s bail proceedings before Delhi High Court. The Courts direction came on a petition filed by the NIA challenging the order passed by Justice Anup J. Bhambani of the Delhi High Court that had directed the NIA to furnish the complete copy of the proceedings in the matter pertaining to Navlakha’s bail plea. Navlakha had approached the Delhi High Court seeking interim bail on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The High Court on May 22nd had issued notice to the NIA and had directed it to file its status report. Navlakha was however taken to Mumbai after warrant from a Mumbai court was produced, even before the matter could be taken up for hearing again. An application was filed on May 25th seeking an order to be passed for his transfer, which was allowed and he was taken to Mumbai on May 26th. 

Thereafter on May 27th, the Delhi High court noted that the NIA had acted in “unseemly haste” to transfer Navlakha from Delhi to Mumbai and directed NIA to file a proper report with all the details related to his transfer, including the proceedings before the Mumbai court and his medical records

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta today stated that the Order passed by the Delhi High Court is patently without jurisdiction.

According to NIA, the Delhi High Court lacked the territorial jurisdiction to pass the impugned directions, since the case is registered at Mumbai, making the Special Court at Mumbai the competent court to hear the matter.

They have challenged jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court order stating that Gautam Navlakha was charged by an authority outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court because the remand order of accused was passed by a Special NIA Judge in Mumbai.

According to NIA, the plea for interim bail filed by Gautam Navlakha before the Delhi HC was not maintainable since the charges against him include scheduled offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and plea for bail can only be heard and decided by a Special NIA Court. 

NIA, in its petition has also added according to Sections 13, 14, 16 and 21 of the NIA Act its clear that an interim bail plea filed by persons accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, can be heard by Division Benches of High Courts, only in appeal against orders of Special NIA Judges. The plea before the Delhi High Court was therefore not maintainable. 

The NIA has also stated that they were right in transferring Navlakha from Delhi to Mumbai on the said date, considering the uncertainty of air travel after that on the account of pandemic, which is why they rightly moved an application before the competent jurisdictional Court i.e. Ld. NIA Special Court, Mumbai seeking transfer of Gautam Navlakha from Delhi to Mumbai in the aforesaid FIR.

Read the Order Here;


-India Legal Bureau

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