Mumbai, Dec 20 – The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted bail to human rights activist and journalist Gautam Navlakha in the 2018 Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case.
A division bench headed by Justice Ajay Gadkari, while granting the bail, on the ground of parity with co-accused Anand Teltumbde, directed Navlakha to furnish a local surety of Rs 1 lakh. However, the court stayed the operation of its own order for three weeks to enable the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to approach the Supreme Court. The NIA had sought a stay for six weeks.
Navlakha is the seventh accused to be granted bail by the court. He was arrested in August 2018. The Supreme Court, on November 10, 2022, permitted him to be shifted from the prison and kept under house arrest. He is currently residing in Navi Mumbai.
Navlakha has moved the Bombay High Court challenging the September 5, 2022 special NIA court order which had rejected his regular bail plea .
In his bail plea, Navlakha contended that the special court had erred while refusing bail to him.
While opposing the plea, NIA told the court that the accused had been introduced to a Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) General for his recruitment, which shows his nexus with the organisation.
The central agency accused him 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.
Navlakha has been booked under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017 which the police claim triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.
Eminent activists like Varavara Rao, Sudha Bhardwaj, Gautam Navalakha and Anand Teltumbe, Vernon Gonzalves, and Arun Ferreira are among the accused facing charges. Maharashtra Police had conducted raids in Pune, Delhi and other cities across India to arrest members of the Elgar Parishad, which they claim was funded by the Maoists.