Activist Gautam Navlakha’s transfer to house arrest on November 16 is back in the Supreme Court with the activist accusing the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of delay on “frivolous grounds” even as the Central agency raised security concerns.
While Mr. Navlakha, in an application represented by senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, submitted that the NIA and Maharashtra Police took 96 hours instead of the 48 hours stipulated by the apex court to inspect the residence where he would be held in house arrest at Navi Mumbai.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the NIA, said they found that the residential premises was on the first floor of a building where there is a library run by the Communist Party. 70-year-old Navlakha is accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for alleged links with Maoists.
“He is a Maoist and we objected to it. But now instead of a house he has given the address of a library-cum-stay place of the Communist party,” Mr. Mehta submitted.
“Not at all, we had given the address in court. It was also mentioned there was a library,” Ms. Ramakrishnan countered.
Mr. Mehta said the NIA would also file an application in the Supreme Court highlighting its concerns.
The issue came up during an oral mentioning before Chief Justice Chandrachud. The CJI listed the case before a Bench headed by Justice K.M. Joseph on November 18.
On November 10, a Bench led by Justice Joseph had allowed Mr. Navlakha to be shifted from Taloja Jail to house arrest in Navi Mumbai while imposing strict police surveillance on his interactions and movements similar to those in a prison.
The Bench had then said Mr. Navlakha should actually start his house arrest within 48 hours of the order after carrying out the necessary security screening of the residential place in Navi Mumbai.
The court had said the house arrest, ordered primarily considering the 70-year-old man’s health and the facts of the case, including that he had been in custody since October 2020, would continue till the next hearing in the second week of December, when it would be open for review.