Tuesday, April 23, 2024

NIA demands Rs 1.64 crore from Gautam Navlakha as cost of security during house arrest

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) demanded Rs 1.64 crore from human rights activist Gautam Navlakha as the cost of his security during his house arrest in the Bhima Koregaon case.

NIA made the atrocious claim at the Supreme Court on Thursday, Live Law reported.

Navlakha’s lawyer Nitya Ramakrishnan termed the central agency’s move as “extortion”.

Ramakrishnan requested the court to look into the matter and nullify NIA’s demand.

“They cannot demand one crore [rupees] from citizens for keeping them in custody,” she said.

General SV Raju representing the agency said that the citizens are not entitled to house arrest.

Since Navlakha has so far only paid Rs 10 lakh toward the expenses of his house arrest, he must first complete the payment, Raju added.

The Supreme Court bench said that the validity of the Rs 1.64 crore claim made by NIA will be decided in a hearing in April, and in the meantime, Navlakha will remain in the agency’s custody.

The bench was hearing the activist’s plea for changing the location of his house arrest in Mumbai, as well as the agency’s plea challenging Navlakha’s bail order given by the Bombay High Court on December 19.

Navlakha (70) was arrested in August 2018, accused of organising the caste violence that broke out between Maratha and Dalit groups during the Elgar Parishad convention in the Bhima Koregaon village near Pune in January 2018.

He, along with 15 others, was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the incident.

Later, he was shifted from jail to house arrest in November 2022, after the Supreme Court issued an order considering his ill health and poor facilities in the prison.

In December 2023, the Bombay High Court found that there was no material to prove Navlakha’s involvement in any terrorist activity under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Despite the bail, his arrest custody was prolonged for three weeks to allow the National Investigation Agency to appeal against it. In January, the Supreme Court once again extended the stay delaying his release.

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