Gautam Navlakha
Gautam Navlakha
File Photo

Mumbai: In a setback for human rights activist Gautam Navalakha, the Bombay High Court on Monday refused to grant him default bail on the ground that the investigating agency has not filed its chargesheet within the 90 days deadline.

A bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Makarand Karnik said, "It is not possible for us to fathom a situation where Navalakha's detention though held to be illegal & unlawful rendering the authorisation by the Magistrate untenable should still be construed as an authorised detention."

"In our view sans any valid authorisation/order of the Magistrate detaining Navalakha, the incumbent will not be entitled to a default bail," the judges held.

The bench was dealing with Navalakha's plea seeking default bail.

To buttress his case, Navalakha through senior advocate Kapil Sibal argued that the special court while denying him default bail, failed to count the 34 days of his house arrest, as ordered by a Magistrate court.

According to Navalakha, he was kept in house arrest from August 28 to October 1, 2018. He was later arrested in April 2020, wherein he was initially kept in NIA custody for 11 days and then was sent in judicial custody, which have crossed over 45 days.

Calculating the entire time period, Sibal said that his client has been kept in jail for more than 90 days and thus deserves to be released on default bail.

On the other hand, the NIA had claimed that since the house arrest was declared illegal by the Delhi High Court, the period of 34 days thus cannot be counted within the 90 days stipulated time.

Navalakha along with a dozen human rights activists have been arrested under charges of terrorism. They are accused of having links with the CPI(M) and Maoist groups. They are booked for instigating riots in the Bhima-Koregaon area of Pune.

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Free Press Journal