Making light of solicitor general Tushar Mehta‘s argument that it is shocking that Navlakha selected premises owned by Communist Party for his house-arrest lodgement, a bench of Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy asked, “Is CPI not a recognised political party? It does not shock us that he chose that building’s first floor, which is a residential unit.”
The bench also brushed aside Mehta’s arguments on Navlakha’s alleged links with Pakistan’s ISI, suppression of his relation with Dr S Kothari who headed the panel in Jaslok hospital that gave a health assessment report and links with Maoist organisations to justify the plea for recall of the earlier order.
Can’t tackle Naxalism with kid gloves: Govt
The bench said, “We had passed the order for his house arrest after hearing extensive arguments on all these points.”
When additional solicitor general S V Raju pointed out that there were several security loopholes in the place chosen by Gautam Navlakha, the bench said, “We had incorporated all the conditions as spelt out by NIA to stop Navlakha from interacting with any outsider except his female companion. Now, you cannot argue that despite having the might of the state, you cannot prevent a 70-year-old ailing man from breaching the security cover. Do you understand what you are arguing?”
The CPI-owned premises also houses a public library.
When the two law officers kept stretching their objections, the bench said, “If NIA is trying to find out loopholes to defy our orders, we will take a serious view of it.” However, it incorporated a few minor additional security measures in its November 10 order, including monitoring of the CCTV by police personnel round the clock, and said it would take up the matter again on December 13.
Resigning from making any further attempts to elaborate on NIA’s apprehension over Navlakha getting shifted out of Taloja jail, solicitor general Tushar Mehta said, “There are a number of prisoners who are more than 70 years and suffer from more serious ailments and yet they are treated in prison hospital. There has to be equal treatment.” As a parting shot, he said, “Naxalism cannot be dealt with kid gloves. That is the perception I have.”
On November 10, SC had allowed Navlakha’s house arrest for four weeks taking a sympathetic view of his medical issues, old age, absence of previous criminal record and the scant possibility of completion of trial in the near future. It had imposed all the conditions suggested by NIA, including complete denial of phones, laptops and internet facility.
The bench had warned that misuse of house arrest conditions would result in cancellation of the concession granted to Navlakha, who is facing charges in the Elgar Parishad case along with 15 other accused. The court said it was imposing strict conditions to ensure that its order for house arrest is not misused “even for a microsecond”.