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'Humanity Most Important': Bombay High Court On Jail Authorities Refusing Gautam Navlakha's Spectacles Sent By Partner

Nitish Kashyap
8 Dec 2020 11:50 AM GMT
Humanity Most Important:  Bombay High Court On Jail Authorities Refusing Gautam Navlakhas Spectacles Sent By Partner
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The Bombay High Court while hearing plea filed by two accused in the Bhima Koregaon case made significant observations regarding the news about another accused in the case Gautam Navlakha, who is currently lodged at Taloja prison.Yesterday it was reported that his spectacles have been allegedly stolen on November 27 and the prison authorities did not allow him to contact family members for...

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The Bombay High Court while hearing plea filed by two accused in the Bhima Koregaon case made significant observations regarding the news about another accused in the case Gautam Navlakha, who is currently lodged at Taloja prison.

Yesterday it was reported that his spectacles have been allegedly stolen on November 27 and the prison authorities did not allow him to contact family members for three days after that.

A division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice MS Karnik was hearing criminal writ petitions filed by Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor, two accused in the case. The bench observed-

"Humanity is most important. Everything else will follow. Today we learnt about Gautam Navlakha's spectacles. This is high time to conduct a workshop for prison authorities."

Navlakha's partner Sahba Hussain had stated that the 70-year-old journalist is nearly blind without his spectacles.

Referring to the allegation by Navlakha's family that although a replacement for the spectacles was sent by Speed Post on December 3 and were delivered on December 5 but the jail authorities refused to accept it, Justice Shinde asked-

"Can you deny all these small items? These are all humane considerations,"

The Additional Public Prosecutor for the State intervened and submitted that in Varavara Rao's case, he was admitted to Nanavati hospital for medical assistance as he suffers from several ailments .

Justice Shinde acknowledged that the State responded positively and got him (Rao) transferred to the hospital and reiterated that humanity is of utmost importance.

Senior Advocate Mihir Desai appeared on behalf of the petitioner accused Ramesh Gaichor and Sagar Gorkhe. He submitted that the two accused were arrested by the NIA only because they refused to make statements before a magistrate against the other accused in the case. He submitted that they were being coerced by the NIA.

Moreover Desai argued that the offence is alleged to have occurred in Pune and although the trial was initially held before a court in Pune, after the NIA took over the probe, it was transferred to the special NIA court in Mumbai even when there is a Special NIA court in Pune.

"How many are accused in the case?", Justice Shinde asked Sr Adv Mihir Desai.

Desai: A total of sixteen accused have been arrested, three have been declared absconding, two of them are above 75 years of age and eight of them above 60.

NIA's counsel Advocate Sandesh Patil sought time to take instructions in the matter. The bench posted the matter for hearing on December 21.

Navlakha, who is one of the accused in the case relating to the caste based violence that took place at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018 had surrendered before the NIA on April 14, 2020.

The petitioners in the present criminal writ petition that was heard today have challenged their arrest by the NIA. When Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap, activists of cultural group Kabir Kala Manch, were arrested and produced before the trial court they informed the Court that they were being coerced into making statements against other accused in the case.

However, the Special NIA Judge noted that at this stage, it cannot be said that there is substance in the objections raised by the accused on the point of forceful confessions. He refused to record the proposed statement of the accused that NIA was forcing them to make confessions.

"Since at the stage of remand the court is required to inquire with the accused about the ill-treatment at the hands of police only but the tenor of the proposed statement of the accused is on the point of forcing them to make confessional statement, therefore court is not supposed to record it. Hence, it was not recorded", the order stated


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