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Bhima Koregaon: Bombay High Court Sets Aside Special Court's "Cryptic" Order Refusing Bail To Gautam Navlakha, Directs To Decide Afresh

Amisha Shrivastava
2 March 2023 10:57 AM GMT
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Observing that the trial court gave cryptic reasoning while refusing Bhima Koregaon accused Gautam Navlakha’s bail plea, the Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Special NIA Court to hear and decide the case afresh.

The division bench of Justice AS Gadkari and Justice PD Naik set aside the Special NIA Court’s order rejecting Navlakha’s bail plea.

The trial court has not given reasoning as required under section 43D(5) of the UAPA while rejecting the bail application. The reasoning stated in the order is very cryptic and there is no analysis. The Additional Solicitor General fairly conceded to the said fact and submitted that the bail application be remanded to the trial court. In view of our observations, the matter to be remanded back to the trial court for fresh hearing”, the court stated.

The High Court directed the NIA Court to conclude the case within four weeks without being influenced by the earlier order rejecting bail. High Court clarified that it has not made any observations on merit.

Navlakha is currently under house arrest after Supreme Court allowed his transfer from jail to house arrest on account of his medical condition for one month, subject to various conditions.

A special NIA court had on September 5, 2022 rejected Navlakha's bail application. The 73-year-old human rights activist has been in custody since August 2018.

The special court had noted that NIA specifically alleged that Navlakha had nexus in the crime. Special Judge Rajesh Katariya had observed that there is ample material in the charge sheet to show that Navlakha is connected with the offence.

Navlakha has been booked under Sections 153(A), 505(1)(B), 117, 120(B), 121, 121(A), 124(A) & 34 of IPC and Sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 18(A), 18(B), 20, 38, 39 & 40 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Navlakha is accused of furthering the banned CPI (Maoist)'s agenda and conspiring to overthrow the government. The NIA has also accused him of instigating the caste violence that erupted at Bhima Koregaon, a war memorial site in Pune, on January 1, 2018.

In the charge sheet, NIA has alleged that Navlakha was a member of CPI (Maoist) and possessed incriminating documents related to it. NIA also alleged that Navlakha supported the Kashmir separatist movement.

NIA also had alleged before the Special Court that Navlakha was actively involved in fixing appointments and meetings between active urban cadres and underground leaders of CPI (Maoist) under the garb of fact-finding missions.

Case title – Gautam Navlakha v. National Investigation Agency

Click Here To Read/Download Impugned Order

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