A special NIA court in Mumbai on Sunday, July 12, denied default bail to activist Gautam Navlakha, in the Bhima Koregaon case. Navlakha had sought default bail under Section 167 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc), claiming he had been in custody for over 90 days.
Currently lodged in Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail, the civil rights activist had surrendered before the National Investigation Agency on April 14 this year. Between August 29 and October 1 in 2018, Navlakha was kept under house arrest.
Arguing for Navlakha’s bail, his lawyer submitted that the court should also consider house arrest as period under the custody of investigating agencies. He also said the probe agency had not submitted its charge sheet within a stipulated period of 90 days.
Appearing for the NIA, Additional Solicitor General of India Anil Singh said the application for default bail was not maintainable.
The direction given by HC for house confinement would not be a custody within the meaning of section 167 of CrPC, the agency said.
Special judge Dinesh Kothalikar rejected the contention that house arrest period can be included in detention time. The court further held that Navlakha was never under the detention of police for investigation during house arrest.
Earlier he was remanded to NIA custody for 10 days by the court after the probe agency sought his remand saying it needed to question him to unearth a conspiracy in connection with the case.
The court also accepted NIA’s plea seeking extension of 90 to 180 days to file charge sheet against Navlakha and another accused activist Dr Anand Teltumbde.
He has been arrested along with 10 others in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, which was transferred from Pune police to NIA in January this year.
It is to be noted that the special court at Mumbai has repeatedly denied bail to all the accused in the case, who have been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Recently on June 26, 81-year-old Telugu poet and activist Varavara Rao, who is also lodged in Taloja Jail, was also denied bail. Reports about the poet’s failing health surfaced as his family alleged that he was delirious when he contacted them last.
The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on December 31, 2017, which police said triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon Bhima war memorial.
Also read: “Don’t Kill Him in Jail. His Brain is Getting Damaged,” says Varavara Rao’s Family