The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday urged the Bombay High Court not to grant jailed human rights activist Gautam Navlakha, accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoists nexus case, relief from house arrest, arguing that it would lead to hardship, including the inability to prevent him from using social media while released from prison.
Navlakha’s use of social media or the internet could prove dangerous, NIA attorney Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh said, while opposing the septuagenarian activist’s request that he be under house arrest.
Singh said that if the court allows Navlakha to be released from prison and placed under house arrest until the end of the trial in the case, the Maharashtra and Union government authorities will have several difficulties in implementing such a decision. order.
The additional Solicitor General said the grounds cited by Navlakha’s lawyer, Yug Chaudhry, for the house arrest were common grievances such as Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai, where the activist is housed, being overcrowded and his client suffering from hypertension.
“Today, problems like hypertension, diabetes are common. Where is the question of house arrest? Tomorrow this court will be flooded, it will become like a market with thousands of inmates asking for house arrest. residence,” Singh said.
Chaudhry, however, called Singh’s apprehension of being inundated with requests for house arrest from inmates unfounded.
“Police guards may be stationed in front of his (Navlakha) house, but how will the court prevent him from using social media, internet in his house? It’s very dangerous. He is charged in a national security matter and he wants to stay in his house,” Singh said.
The NIA lawyer further stated that it is common knowledge that India is an overpopulated nation and the city of Mumbai is overpopulated. Therefore, the fact that Taloja prison was overcrowded was not a sufficient reason to grant house arrest.
The Maharashtra government also opposed Navlakha’s appeal and told a panel of judges SB Shukre and GA Sanap that the prison authorities would provide necessary medical treatment for the activist.
State attorney Sangeeta Shinde refuted allegations of denial of basic medical care and other necessities made by Navlakha against prison authorities.
“He was held in a high security cell and he is the only one in his cell,” she said.
Shinde argued that Navlakha’s claims that the prison toilets were unhygienic were incorrect since people housed in high-security cells were required to clean their cells and toilets themselves.
“He was given phenyl and acid (for cleaning purposes),” Shinde said.
Responding to the HC’s previous question about a book by famed English author and comedian PG Wodehouse denied Navlakha by prison officials on security grounds, the state’s attorney said the book was sent by the the activist’s family at a time when the coronavirus pandemic was raging and as a safety measure, no packages from outside were allowed in the prison.
The HC, however, refused to accept the justification and pointed out that the prison authorities had simply mentioned the “threat to security” as a reason for not allowing the activist access to the book and had not had to. all mentioned COVID-19 as a reason in their writing. certificate filed in court.
Attorney Chaudhry told the HC that the state and NIA’s apprehension that the court would be inundated with house arrest applications was unfounded since, according to NHRC data, only 1,874 detainees over 50 were placed on trial in Maharashtra and that about 20 percent of them were likely to be over 70 years old.
“Please don’t let fear of the dragon scare your lordships from implementing the Supreme Court’s green signal on house arrest,” Chaudhry said on the bench.
The HC closed all arguments in the case and reserved its verdict on Navlakha’s plea.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)