Supreme Court Allows Gautam Navlakha to Be Moved From Jail to House Arrest

The bench said Navlakha should be moved to house arrest from the Taloja Central Prison within 48 hours.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday (November 10) allowed rights activist Gautam Navlakha to be placed under house arrest instead of being lodged in Mumbai’s Taloja Central Prison, on account of his health. After one month, this order will be reviewed, LiveLaw reported.

Navlakha should be moved to house arrest within 48 hours, the court said. His 71-year-old partner will be allowed to stay with him.

The rights activist has been asked to deposit Rs 2.4 lakh to cover the expenses of security while under house arrest.

The bench of Justices K.M. Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy also set out the conditions of his house arrest. Navlakha will not be allowed to use the internet, a computer or any other communication device. However, “He will however be permitted to use a mobile phone provided by police personnel on duty once a day for 10 minutes in the presence of the police. Otherwise they shall not use any other mobile phone including that of his companion,” Bar and Bench quoted the court as saying.

Newspapers will be allowed in the house, as will a television as long as it is not internet based.

Navlakha cannot leave Mumbai/Navi Mumbai for the duration of the house arrest, the court directed, and can interact with family members for three hours every day. CCTV cameras should also be installed at the entrance and exits of the house, the bench said, and outside the rooms.

While the court has granted the police permission to search the house Navlakha will be living in, to make sure the house arrest is not being taken advantage also, the bench also said that such searches should not be used to harass the petitioner. “We make it clear that such searches should not be abused…should not be a ruse to harass the petitioner,” LiveLaw quoted the bench as saying.

Navlakha, who is one of the 16 people accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, had approached the Supreme Court asking to be allowed house arrest after his plea was rejected by the Bombay high court. The Supreme Court on Wednesday had already suggested that it was willing to grant Navlakha house arrest, given his age and health problems.

“He is a 70-year-old man. We don’t know how long he will live. Certainly, he is going towards the inevitable. It’s not that we are going to release him on bail. He is not going to enjoy the default bail which comrade Sudha (Bharadwaj) got… We are conscious that we have to tread carefully. We agree that house arrest as an alternative has to be used carefully,” the bench had said.

Navlakha was first arrest in August 2018, and granted house arrest at that time. He was moved to the Taloja Central Prison in April 2020.