New Delhi: In a relief to activist Gautam Navlakha, who is in jail in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case, the Supreme Court on Thursday allowed his request to be placed under house arrest, saying prima facie there is no reason to reject his medical report.
Imposing a number of conditions, a bench of Justices K M Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy said the order to place the 70-year-old activist under house arrest for a month in Mumbai should be implemented within 48 hours.
“It is unlikely that the case will make any progress towards culmination in the foreseeable future, with charges not being framed…
“We would think that he should be allowed to be placed for (under) house arrest for a period of one month,” the bench said.
The apex court also directed Navlakha to deposit Rs 2.4 lakh, an estimated amount which the National Investigation Agency (NIA) claims as expenses for making available police personnel.
It also said that Navlakha will not be allowed to use a computer and internet during his house arrest.
“Petitioner will not use a computer, internet or any other communication device while under house arrest. He will, however, be permitted to use a mobile phone without internet, provided by police personnel on duty, once a day for 10 minutes in the presence of the police,” the bench said.
The apex court also said that Navlakha shall not be allowed to leave Mumbai and he will not attempt, in any manner, to influence witnesses during his house arrest.
Television and newspapers will be allowed, but these cannot be internet-based, it said.
“We observe that the petitioner and companion are expected to scrupulously adhere to all conditions. Any deviation will be viewed seriously and may entail immediate cancellation of the order,” the bench said.
On Wednesday, the top court had asked the NIA to inform it about the kind of restrictions it wanted for Navlakha if he is placed under house arrest and asked Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the agency, to seek instructions.
As the hearing commenced on Thursday, Raju said there’s a twist in the tale. “We have reason to believe that the medical report is tainted,” he said.
He said the medical report filed by the Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai may be “tainted” as Navlakha’s brother-in-law, a doctor, was part of the medical board.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Navlakha, had said on Wednesday that the medical reports showed that there was no possibility of him being treated in jail.