[Bhima Koregaon] NIA Court refuses temporary bail to activist Gautam Navlakha

Navlakha had sought temporary bail relying upon the guidelines issued by the High Power Committee for decongestion of prisons in light of the COVID pandemic.
Gautam Navlakha
Gautam Navlakha

The Special Court under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act has refused temporary bail to Bhima Koregaon accused Gautam Navlakha.

Navlakha had sought temporary bail relying upon the guidelines issued by the High Power Committee for decongestion of prisons in light of the COVID pandemic.

Advocate Chandni Chawla representing Navlakha, stated at the outset that the application has been filed from jail and she did not wish to make elaborate arguments.

However it may be considered that Navlakha is a senior citizen and these are COVID times,” she submitted.

Opposing the application, Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Prakash Shetty argued that the application seemed to have been filed on “imaginary ground” and also did not contain any medical certificate.

The SPP further said that COVID impact has reduced substantially.

Can bail applications be considered on such belated grounds,” he demanded.

After hearing the parties briefly, Special NIA Judge DE Kothalikar proceeded to reject the application.

The Court also rejected the interim medical bail application of Dr. Anand Teltumbde, a co-accused in the case on the grounds that the application had become infructuous.

The Special Judge observed that since the main bail application had been rejected by the Court, the interim application could not be considered.

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It was also brought to the Court's attention that an appeal challenging the bail rejection order had been filed before the Bombay High Court and was pending hearing.

The NIA court is yet to frame charges in the case. However, as stated in an earlier hearing, the Court will dispose of all pending interim applications before it proceeds to frame charges.

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The Special Judge pointed out that there are over seven pending applications in the case including applications filed before the Pune Sessions Court in January 2020 before the matter was transferred to the NIA Court.

The pending application included a report by the Superintendent of Taloja Prison which contained complaint against three accused of misconduct in the jail.

Advocate Barun Kumar appearing for one of the accused sought for time to respond to the reports.

The NIA judge had also issued production warrant of three accused, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Surendra Gadling in order to be produced in the Court.

However, due to unavailability of the police escorts, they could not be produced.

They will now be produced in court on the next date which is September 6, 2021.

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