A special National Investigation Agency court on Monday rejected a bail application filed by activist Gautam Navlakha in the Bhima Koregaon case, PTI reported.
Special Judge Rajesh J Katariya rejected his plea. The detailed order has not been made public yet..
The case pertains to caste violence in a village near Pune in 2018. Sixteen persons were arrested for allegedly plotting the violence and were later accused of conspiring to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Navlakha was arrested on August 28, 2018 for his alleged involvement in the case. The 71-year-old is lodged in the Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai.
On August 29, the Supreme Court’s Justice S Ravindra Bhat had recused himself from hearing Navlakha’s request that he should be placed under house arrest.
Chief Justice UU Lalit had said that the case could be heard by a bench comprising him and Justice KM Joseph, as it had heard a case involving Navlakha earlier.
The activist approached the Supreme Court to challenge an order of the Bombay High Court from April 26 that dismissed the petition about placing him under house arrest. The High Court had said that Navlakha’s apprehensions about the lack of medical aid and basic facilities in the Taloja prison were ill-founded.
It had asked him to approach the National Investigation Agency about problems faced in the prison.
The activist had filed the petition after his co-accused, tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, died during his time in custody in July 2021. Swamy, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease and also contracted the coronavirus infection while in prison, was repeatedly denied bail despite his deteriorating health condition. He was 84.
Navlakha has also filed a petition in the Bombay High Court demanding that he should be allowed to make phone calls from prison. On July 20, the Maharashtra government’s counsel Sangeeta Shinde told the court that the request could not be accepted as he was facing charges of terrorism.
Bhima Koregaon case
The first chargesheet in the case was filed by the Pune Police in November 2018, which ran into over 5,000 pages. It named activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, all of whom were arrested in June 2018. The police claimed that those arrested had “active links” with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and accused the activists of plotting to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A supplementary chargesheet was filed in February 2019, against human rights activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Ganapathy.
The accused were charged with “waging war against the nation” and spreading the ideology of the CPI (Maoist), besides creating caste conflicts and hatred in the society.