The Bombay High Court on Tuesday rejected a confession filed by activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist relationship case, requesting that he be placed under house arrest instead of judicial detention at Taloja jail as it lacks basic facilities.
Panel of Judges SB Shukre and GA Sanap rejected the confession and said that if Mr Navlakha had any grievances regarding the lack of medical assistance and basic facilities at Taloja prison – a reason he cited while applying for house arrest – he should inform special parties. The National Investigation Agency, or NIA, courts about it.
The high court ordered the superintendent of Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai, where Mr Navlakha was handed over as a lower trial in the case, to provide him with medical kits and assistance.
“The petition is now dismissed. The petitioner will be free to bring to the attention of the official chairman of the NIA special court, grievances regarding the difficulties he faces in prison,” the panel of judges said.
The officer was instructed to ensure the grievance was resolved according to legal parameters, he said.
Mr Navlakha had approached the high court earlier this year through counsel Yug Chaudhry, asking for him to be transferred to house arrest instead of judicial custody.
The activist said that he was a senior citizen and suffered from several health ailments.
The trial in the case is unlikely to start anytime soon, Mr Chaudhry has said urging the court to impose any conditions it deems appropriate, but allowing Mr Navlakha to be transferred from Taloja prison and placed under house arrest.
The NIA has urged the high court not to grant Mr Navlakha house arrest release, arguing that it would result in difficulties, including an inability to prevent him from using social media while out of prison.
NIA Additional Counsel Attorney General Anil Singh has said that the reasons raised by Mr Chaudhry for house arrest are common grievances as Mr Navlakha suffers from hypertension and the prison is overcrowded.
The investigating agency said it was common knowledge that India was a crowded country and the city of Mumbai was too crowded. Therefore, the overcrowded Taloja prison is not a sufficient reason to give house arrest.
The Maharashtra government has also opposed Mr Navlakha’s appeal and informed the court that the prison authorities will provide medical treatment to him.