Activist Gautam Navlakha, arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, was granted bail by the Bombay High Court division bench headed by Justice AS Gadkari.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) urged the court to stay operation of the order for a period of six weeks so that it could file an appeal in the Supreme Court. The bench stayed the order for three weeks.
Navlakha, who was arrested in August 2018, was in November last year permitted by the Supreme Court to be placed under house arrest. He is residing in Navi Mumbai at present.
The HC granted Navlakha bail on a surety of Rs 1 lakh. He is the seventh accused in the case to be granted bail. In April this year, a special court had refused to grant bail to Navlakha, noting that there was prima facie evidence to show that the activist was an active member of banned outfit CPI (Maoist).
In his appeal filed in the HC, Navlakha said the special court had erred while refusing bail to him. This is Navlakha’s second round of appeal in the HC seeking regular bail. He had earlier moved the HC after the special NIA court rejected his regular bail plea in September last year.
The NIA had then claimed that Navlakha had been introduced to a Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) General for his recruitment, which showed his nexus with the organisation. The HC had, however, opined that the reasoning in the order of the special court was cryptic and did not contain analysis of the evidence relied upon by the prosecution’s view of this.
The HC had ruled that the bail application requires fresh hearing by the special court, and had remanded the case back to the court. It had also directed the special judge to conclude the hearing within four weeks. Accordingly, Navlakha had moved the special court for re-hearing his case for regular bail. The special court had then re-heard the plea on the same pleadings and rejected the bail plea prompting the present appeal.
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. As many as 16 activists have been arrested in the case of which five are currently out on bail.
Scholar-activist Anand Teltumbde, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferrira and Mahesh Raut are out on regular bail, while poet Varavara Rao is currently out on bail on health grounds. Navlakha is the seventh accused to be granted bail in this case.