Friday, December 2, 2022

Supreme Court to hear Gautam Navlakha’s bail plea tomorrow

A two-judge bench of Justices Uday Umesh Lalit and K.M. Joseph will hear the plea against the Bombay High Court order of February 8 which had dismissed his plea for bail.

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The Supreme Court on Monday has deferred the hearing to March 23, Tuesday, on a bail plea filed by human rights activist Gautam Navlakha in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case.

A two-judge bench of Justices Uday Umesh Lalit and K.M. Joseph will hear the plea against the Bombay High Court order of February 8 which had dismissed his plea for bail. The Apex Court on March 15 had asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to file its response on Navlakha’s bail plea and decided to hear the same on Monday. 

The petitioner has filed an SLP against the order passed by Bombay High Court in which authorization of the detention by the Magistrate under Section 167(2) of Cr.P.C. was in question and particularly when the detention has been held to be unlawful, can this period of custody still be included in the 90 days period prescribed for grant of default bail.

The Bombay High Court hold that the period from 28.08.2018 to 01.10.2018 has to be excluded from computing the period of 90 days as the said custody has been held to be unsustainable in law by the High Court of Delhi. The High Court of Delhi also set aside the order passed by the learned CMM on 28.08.2018 granting transit remand to the Petitioner. It is not in dispute that thereafter the Petitioner applied for Anticipatory Bail which came to rejected at all stages and ultimately the Petitioner surrendered on 14.04.2020. It is only consequent to the surrender that the Magistrate then authorize the police custody.

The petitioner is a 69-year-old scholar, writer, peace and civil rights activist and journalist of long standing associated with the Economic and Political Weekly and other well regarded publications. It is stated that he belongs to the People’s Union of Democratic Rights (PUDR) and many of his petitions have led to landmark judgments.

The petitioner came to be arrested on 28.10.2018 at his residence in Delhi in connection with FIR No. 4 of 2018 registered at Vishrambag Police Station, Pune on 08/01/2018. The said F.I.R. has since been numbered as RC 01/2020/NIA/Mum dated 24/01/2020 registered by NIA, Mumbai under sections 121, 121-A, 124-A, 153-A, 505(1)(b), 117, 120-B read with section 34 of Indian Penal Code (‘IPC’ for short) & sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 18-B, 20, 38, 39, 40 of UAP Act.

The petitioner was under house arrest. The transit remand ordered by the CMM on 28.08.2018 was stayed by the High Court of Delhi on very same day. During the period of house arrest, barring the petitioner’s lawyers and ordinary residents of the house, the petitioner was not supposed to meet any one or step out of the premises till further orders. 

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The High Court of Delhi had ordered that the petitioner be kept at the same place from where he was picked up with two guards of the Special Cell, Delhi Police along with local police that was originally present to arrest the petitioner, outside the house. It is therefore obvious that the Investigating Agency/Investigating Officer did not have any access to him nor had an occasion to interrogate him. 

As the transit remand order was stayed, it cannot be said that the appellant was under detention of police for investigation.

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