After two adjournments early this week, the Supreme Court, on Friday, heard the appeal of Delhi journalist-turned human rights activist Gautam Navlakha (68) for default bail and reserved its order on his custody in the Bhima Koregaon case of 2017.
Navlakha will have to languish in Taloja Jail near Mumbai for yet another fortnight, as the order is most likely to come only on April 12. He is an accused in the Elgar Parishad case of violence in Pune and alleged conspiracy hatched to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Navlakha had come in appeal after the Bombay High Court rejected his plea for the default bail after completion of the 90-day remand period since the National Investigation Agency (NIA) failed to file the necessary chargesheet within the time limit prescribed under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
A Bench of Justices UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and KM Joseph wanted to know whether the period of his house arrest in Delhi and the two-day transit remand to take Navlakha from Delhi to Mumbai would be part of the 90-day remand period.
Appearing for Navlakha, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal argued that the police had all the time to interrogate Navlakha while he was in police remand. The orders passed by the High Court granting him interim protection did not mean that the police could not interrogate him, he submitted.
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju argued that the orders passed by the High Courts and the Supreme Court keeping Navlakha in custody were not orders under Section 167 CrPC. Thus, these periods cannot be counted as part of the 90-day period.
Sibal countered that the High Court orders placing Navlakha under house arrest were an extension of Section 167 CrPC and so counted as part of the remand period.