Jailed activist Gautam Navlakha’s house arrest was delayed again on Wednesday after the National Investigation Agency raised safety concerns about the premises where he wanted to stay, PTI reported.
On November 10, the Supreme Court had allowed Navlakha to be placed under house arrest for a month. This was after the activist filed a plea seeking to be shifted from jail on the grounds of ill health and poor facilities in prison.
The 70-year-old has been accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, which pertains to caste violence in a village near Pune in 2018. He was among 16 people arrested for allegedly plotting the violence.
The objection raised by the National Investigation Agency is the second hindrance Navlakha is facing in being shifted from jail.
Among conditions laid down by the Supreme Court while allowing the house arrest, was producing a surety of Rs 2 lakh by November 14, as proof of solvency. Navlakha could not be shifted from his jail initially as he could not produce the document.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court waived the requirement after Navlakha’s lawyers submitted that it would take a minimum of six weeks to secure a solvency certificate.
Despite this, Navlakha could not be shifted from jail on Wednesday after the National Investigation Agency told a special court that the building where Navlakha wants to stay during house arrest has three three entry points and exits, and there are no CCTV cameras at the exit points.
CCTV cameras at every entry and exit point of the home was one of the conditions set by the Supreme Court for Navlakha’s house arrest.
The National Investigation Agency said that the building’s ground floor functions as a public library, which it argued would make it “very difficult to keep a vigil on the accused”, according to PTI. It also raised objections about the building owner identifying as “secretary of the Communist Party”.
Advocate Yug Mohit Chaudhry, appearing on behalf of Navlakha, told the court that they were ready to install CCTV cameras wherever the agency wishes, reported The Indian Express. He also said that the activist would be restricted to the first floor of the building and would have no access to the ground floor library.
On the objection on ownership of the building, Chaudhry said: “You cannot go on and on about ‘comrades’ owning the premises. The CPI(M) is a registered political party.”
However, the special NIA court held it would not be proper to release Navlakha at this stage without waiting for the Supreme Court’s order on a report submitted by the National Investigation Agency about its observations.
On Thursday, the matter was mentioned in the court of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, who directed it be listed on Friday before a bench headed by Justice KM Joseph, Live Law reported.
Meanwhile, veteran actor Suhasini Mulay appeared before the special court on Wednesday as surety for Navlakha. Mulay told the court that she has known Navlakha for nearly 30 years.