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Supreme Court gives Gautam Navlakha bail in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case

May 14, New Delhi Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case, was ordered to be freed on bail by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Noting that the trial would take “years and years” to conclude, a bench led by Justice M.M. Sundresh declined to prolong the stay that the Bombay High Court had issued on the enforcement of the bail order.

But the Bench, which also included Justice S.V.N. Bhatti, imposed a requirement that Navlakha pay the government Rs 20 lakh now in order to cover the costs of his house imprisonment.

The supreme court acknowledged the argument put out by Navlakha, the activist-journalist, that the activist-journalist has been behind bars for more than four years and that, as charges have not yet been brought, there is a chance that the trial would go on for some time.

Navlakha, who has been detained since April 14, 2020, due to his suspected Maoist connections, was granted bail by the Bombay High Court in December of last year.

However, when the anti-terror agency requested a stay in order to file a special leave plea in the Supreme Court, a division bench of Justices A.S. Gadkari and Shivkumar S. Dige of the High Court postponed the enforcement of its ruling for three weeks. The supreme court periodically renewed this stay.

Due to his senior age and medical issues, Navlakha, 73, has been detained in prison without end since November 2022. This was the result of a Supreme Court ruling.

Navlakha and the other accused were taken into custody and charged by the Pune Police and subsequently the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for their alleged involvement in a plot to topple the government and start caste riots at the Bhima Koregaon memorial near Pune, Maharashtra, on January 1, 2018, which resulted in the death of a young person and caused political unrest in the state.

A former PUDR office-bearer, he was also charged with assisting Kashmiri separatists, having incriminating papers, having Maoist ties, and other offenses. He was also accused of forwarding the goal of the banned CPI (Maoist). The Special NIA Court denied his previous bail requests.

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