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Bhima Koregaon case accused ‘Urban Naxal’ Gautam Navlakha owes Rs 1.64 crores for security during house arrest: NIA in Supreme Court

The NIA had opposed his bail application, submitting that he had been introduced to a General from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for recruitment, indicating his connection with the organisation.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) recently submitted before the Supreme Court that the Bhima Koregaon case accused Gautam Navlakha, the Urban Naxal, is required to pay Rs 1.64 crore as expenses for the security provided to him during his house arrest.

A two-judge bench comprising Justices M M Sundresh and SVN Bhatti heard the matter on Thursday (7th March). The Counsel for NIA, Additional Solicitor General S V Raju told the bench that 70-year-old Navlakha, arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, has only paid an amount of Rs 10 lakh till now as part of expenses incurred for round-the-clock security.

ASG Raju said, “He must pay some amount.”

Appearing for the accused Navlakha, Senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan disputed the figure of Rs 1.64 crore. She alleged that the agency’s calculation of the payable amount was wrong and went on to accuse the agency of “extortion”.

Ramakrishnan claimed, “They cannot demand one crore from citizens for keeping them in custody.”

Responding to her argument, the ASG replied that citizens are not entitled to house arrest and strongly objected to the use of the term “extortion”. 

The bench noted that the case required a detailed hearing and posted the case for April.

The Bombay High Court on 19th December 2023 had granted bail to Bhima Koregaon violence accused Gautam Navlakha. In its order, the division bench comprising Justices AS Gadkari and SG Dige noted that Navlakha merely intended to commit the terrorist act and did not attempt the same. However, the court stayed its order accepting NIA’s request to file an appeal before the Supreme Court. 

The NIA had opposed his bail application, submitting that he had been introduced to a General from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for recruitment, indicating his connection with the organisation.

Meanwhile, in the recent hearing, the Supreme Court has also extended this stay on HC’s order granting bail to the Urban Naxal, Gautam Navlakha.

Gautam Navlakha sent to House arrest despite strong opposition from the probing agency

The Urban Naxal Navlakha has been under house arrest at a public library in Mumbai since November 2022. On 10th November 2022, the SC had granted ‘house arrest’ of Gautam Navlakha on ‘medical grounds’ despite vehement opposition by the probing agency. Before the house arrest order, Navlakha was lodged in Navi Mumbai’s Taloja prison in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case. 

While ordering his house arrest, the Supreme Court had directed Navlakha to deposit Rs 2.4 lakh as expenses to be borne by the state for deploying police personnel to effectively place him under house arrest.

Later, the Court again ordered Navlakha to deposit another Rs 8 lakh as expenses for providing police personnel for his security.

The case relates to the inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on 31st December 2017. A day after the inflammatory speeches, violence erupted near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city. According to the Police, the speeches had triggered the violence. 

Gautam Navlakha, having Maoist links, was arrested by Pune police from Delhi on August 28, 2018, in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon – Elgar Parishad case. Initially, he was kept under house arrest. However, following a Supreme Court order, he was sent to judicial custody in Taloja Central Prison in April 2020.

A total of 16 accused have been arrested in the case and around five of them are currently out on bail.

Apart from the Bhima-Koregaon case, the Urban Naxal Navlakha had reportedly visited the United States thrice in the period between 2010-2011 and written to a US district court judge seeking clemency for Pakistani ISI agent Ghulam Fai, who was arrested by the FBI in 2011 on the charges of accepting funds to the tune of several million from the ISI and the Pakistan government.

In another case, on 31st December 2023, the Delhi Police interrogated Navlakha in Mumbai in connection with the NewsClick funding case. He was questioned about his association with NewsClick’s founder and Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha, as well as his shareholding in the company, PPK NewsClick Studio Pvt Ltd.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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