A Bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik rejected Gautam Navlakha’s bail application today, on February 8, more than six weeks after the matter was reserved for orders, reported Bar & Bench.
According to LiveLaw, the Bench said, “We see no reason to interfere with the order of the trial court”. Navlakha, a senior journalist and human rights activist, accused of having Maoist links has been in custody since April, last year.
Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for the alleged accused Gautam Navlakha, contended that that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had failed to file their chargesheet within the stipulated period of 90 days as per section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Since this was not fulfilled, the jailed activist was entitled to default bail.
Bar & Bench reported that Sibal told the court that the period for which he was confined to his house under house arrest should be calculated as part of judicial custody and should be taken into account while deciding on the custody period. He had argued that the NIA had erred in excluding the period of 34 days spent in house arrest while calculating the total custody period.
ASG Raju (appearing for the NIA), had opposed the application, contending that the Special Court had rightfully held that Navlakha’s house arrest did not constitute ‘detention’. He also argued that during house arrest Gautam Navlakha was not accessible for interrogation as is the case with regular custody. “He was neither in custody nor out on bail, he was a free man”, remarked the ASG.
On August 28, 2018, he was arrested at Pune after an FIR was registered against him under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The Delhi High Court had intervened the same day and directed him to be kept under house arrest. On April 14, 2020, he surrendered before the NIA and has been in police custody since then.