Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case
Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case

The Supreme Court, on Friday, deferred the petition of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against Delhi journalist and civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha for hearing on July 6, when it reopens after the short summer vacation and extended its stay until then on Delhi High Court's May 27 order to produce record of the proceedings against him in the special NIA courts in Delhi and Mumbai.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Abdul Nazeer briefly heard the NIA challenging the High Court order issued after the NIA took away Navlakha from Delhi to Mumbai even when the High Court was hearing his case. The bench also asked the NIA to provide a copy of its petition to Navlakha's lawyer Shadan Farasat as sought by him.

Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, appearing for NIA, asserted that the High Court has no territorial jurisdiction to call for records. He said the NIA did not act in haste in moving Navlakha to Mumbai. He had surrendered in Delhi on April 14, but he could not be moved to Mumbai due to the lockdown and, as such, he was shifted only after securing necessary permission from the NIA court in Mumbai.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also stressed that the order of Delhi High Court under challenge was patently without jurisdiction.

In the last hearing, the Apex Court had issued notice on the NIA's petition, staying the High Court's order.

According to NIA, Delhi High Court lacked the territorial jurisdiction to pass the impugned directions, since the case is registered in Mumbai, making the Special Court at Mumbai the competent court to hear the matter. It challenged the High Court's jurisdiction on the ground that Gautam Navlakha was charged by an authority outside the territorial jurisdiction of the High Court because the remand order of the accused was passed by a Special NIA Judge in Mumbai.

Its stand is that the plea for interim bail filed by Gautam Navlakha before the Delhi HC was not maintainable since the charges against him include scheduled offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and plea for bail can only be heard and decided by a Special NIA Court.

Navlakha is among five human rights activists accused of allegedly inciting violence at Bhima Koregaon village in Pune on January 1, 2018 and also charged with the secret maoist conspiracy hatched to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Free Press Journal