SC grants bail to activist Gautam Navlakha in Elgar Parishad case

Gautam Navlakha
Gautam Navlakha

New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to activist Gautam Navlakha in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case noting that the trial in the case would take time to complete.

A bench of justices M M Sundresh and S V N Bhatti refused to extend the stay imposed by the Bombay High Court order on the bail granted to Navlakha in the case.

It also directed Navlakha to pay Rs 20 lakh towards expenses for security in house arrest.

"Prima facie we are of the view that there is no need to extend the interim order of stay. The appellant has been in incarceration for more than four years and charges are yet to be framed…

"The trial would take years and years and years for its completion. Thus, without going into the respective contention, we are not inclined to extend the stay," the bench said.

Senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, appearing for Navlakha, submitted that the activist has been in jail for over four years and other co-accused have been already been released on bail.

Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for National Investigation Agency (NIA), opposed the grant of bail and contended that a sum of Rs 1.75 crore was still pending which was to be paid by Navlakha as part of expenses for security.

Raju stated that the allegations against Navlakha were serious in nature and the high court committed an error by granting him bail.

The top court noted that Navlakha has been in jail for over four years and charges are yet to be framed in the case.

The Bombay High Court had on December 19 last year granted bail to Navlakha but stayed its order for three weeks after the NIA sought time to file an appeal in the top court.

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 currently residing in Navi Mumbai.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which police claim triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.

Sixteen activists have been arrested in the case and five of them are currently out on bail.

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