The Supreme Court on Tuesday told human rights activist Gautam Navlakha that he would have to pay the costs incurred by the National Investigation Agency towards his house arrest in the Bhima Koregaon case, reported Live Law.

On March 7, the agency told the Supreme Court that Navlakha was liable to pay Rs 1.64 crore as the cost of his security.

Navlakha, 70, is among 16 academicians, activists and lawyers who were charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for their alleged role in instigating caste violence at Bhima Koregaon near Pune in January 2018. He has been in jail since August 2018 and under house arrest since November 2022 on grounds of his poor health.

Appearing for Navlakha in court on Tuesday, advocate Shadan Farasat said that paying the expenses was of no difficulty but said that there were disagreements about how they have been calculated.

Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the National Investigation Agency, responded by saying that house arrest is an unusual arrangement and that a large number of police personnel were required “round the clock” to facilitate Navlakha’s detention in this manner.

Raju added that the cost of security will continue to increase and Navlakha’s lawyers cannot delay the payment by contesting it before the court. “Every time they say this,” Raju told the court, reported Bar and Bench. “I want to see the currency paper, not your file.”

The bench of Justices MM Sundresh and SVN Bhatti said that it would examine the calculation of security expenses filed by the central agency and Navlakha’s to them in the next hearing on April 23, reported Live Law.

The bench did, however, tell Navlakha: “You cannot escape your liability.”

During the previous hearing, Navlakha’s counsel Nitya Ramakrishnan had accused the central counter-terrorism agency of “extortion”.

“We have contested this amount and the matter needs to be heard,” Ramakrishnan told the court. “They cannot demand one crore [rupees] from citizens for keeping them in custody.”

The Supreme Court was considering Navlakha’s plea for shifting the location of his house arrest in Mumbai, along with the agency’s plea challenging his bail order by the Bombay High Court on December 19.

The High Court said in December that there was no material to suggest that Navlakha had committed a terrorist act as defined by the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.