SC grants bail to activist Gautam Navlekha in Elgar Parishad case

The bench added a condition that Navlakha should deposit Rs 20 lakh with the authorities at this stage, as a part of the expenses incurred on him during his house arrest.
Gautam Navlakha
Gautam Navlakha
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday, May 14, granted bail to activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case. The Bombay High Court on December 19, 2023 granted bail to the activist but deferred the order for three weeks after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) sought a stay for filing the petition in the Supreme Court.  

Navlakha was arrested on April 14, 2020, for his participation in the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which according to the police was funded by Maoists. The conclave, according to the police, is what triggered the violence the next day near the Bhima Koregaon war memorial in Pune. Owing to his ill health, the Supreme Court had placed Navlekha under house arrest in November 2022.

Observing that the completion of the trial would take “years and years”, a bench presided over by Justice MM Sundresh and SVN Bhatti refused to extend the stay granted by the Bombay High Court on the implementation of the bail order. The bench added a condition that Navlakha should deposit Rs 20 lakh with the authorities at this stage, as a part of the expenses incurred on him during the house arrest.

The apex court took note of the submission made on Navlakha’s behalf that the activist-journalist remains incarcerated for over four years and there exists a likelihood of prolonging trial proceedings since charges are yet to be framed in the case.

Navlakha is the seventh accused to get bail in the case after Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Anand Teltumbde, Vernon Gonsalves, and Arun Ferreira. Father Stan Swamy, another accused in the case, had died at a private hospital in Mumbai on July 5, 2021 while awaiting medical bail.

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