Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case: SC grants bail to Gautam Navlakha

National |  IANS  | Published :

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case, to be released on bail.

Observing that the completion of the trial would take “years and years”, a bench presided over by Justice M.M. Sundresh refused to extend the stay granted by the Bombay High Court on the implementation of the bail order.

However, the Bench, also comprising Justice S.V.N. Bhatti, added a condition that Navlakha should deposit Rs 20 lakh with the authorities at this stage, as a part of the expenses incurred on him during house arrest.

The apex court took note of the submission made on Navlakha’s behalf that the activist-journalist remains incarcerated for over four years and there exists a likelihood of prolonging trial proceedings since charges are yet to be framed in the case.

In December last year, the Bombay High Court granted bail to Navlakha, who has been in custody since April 14, 2020, for his alleged links with Maoists.

However, a division bench of Justices A.S. Gadkari and Shivkumar S.Dige of the High Court deferred the implementation of its order for three weeks after the anti-terror agency sought a stay for filing a special leave petition in the Supreme Court. This stay was extended from time to time by the apex court.

Navlakha, 73, has been in continuous custody in jail and after a Supreme Court order, was placed under house arrest in November 2022, on account of his advanced age and health conditions.

Navlakha, along with the other accused was arrested and charged by the Pune Police and later by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for plotting to overthrow the government and instigating the caste riots at the Bhima Koregaon memorial near Maharashtra's Pune on January 1, 2018 which left one youth dead, and created a political turmoil in the state.

A former office-bearer of the PUDR, he was also accused of Maoist links, furthering the agenda of the outlawed CPI(Maoist), possessing incriminating documents, supporting Kashmir separatists, and other offences. His earlier bail applications were rejected by the Special NIA Court.

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