Elghar Parishad case | Police get 7-day custody of Gautam Navlakha

The civil rights campaigner surrendered before the NIA on Tuesday

April 16, 2020 11:36 pm | Updated 11:36 pm IST - New Delhi

Civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha. | File

Civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha. | File

Civil rights campaigner Gautam Navlakha was sent to seven-day police custody by a city court on Wednesday.

Mr. Navlakha, accused of involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon riots of 2018, surrendered to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in New Delhi on Tuesday.

NIA had appealed for a 10-day custody of Mr. Navlakha on the ground that custodial interrogation was required for analysing the data and documents retrieved from electronic devices that were recovered during the investigation.

Mr. Navlakha’s counsel opposed the application, stating that he was 67 years old and had been falsely implicated in the case.

Also read: Gautam Navlakha hopes for speedy, fair trial ahead of surrender to NIA

Additional District Judge Sunena Sharma said that considering the nature of allegations, custodial interrogation was indeed required. The Judge then granted the police Mr. Navlakha’s custody for seven days.

The court told the investigating officer that Mr. Navlakha must be medically examined every 48 hours. It said that in the wake of the public health emergency due to COVID-19 outbreak , the officer should take “extra precautions.” The accused being a senior citizen was more prone to infections.

A Supreme Court Bench had rejected the anticipatory bail pleas of Mr. Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde, an engineer and IIM graduate who taught at IIT Kharagpur, on March 16 and ordered them to surrender. The case against them was transferred from the Pune police to the NIA in January. Both have been charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Dr. Teltumbde surrendered in Mumbai on Tuesday . Mr. Navlakha could not travel to Mumbai due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown and surrendered in Delhi.

Before surrendering to the NIA, Mr. Navlakha said in a statement: “My hope rests on a speedy and fair trial for myself and all my co-accused. This alone will enable me to clear my name, and walk free....”

The Pune police had earlier arrested activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves and Varavara Rao for their alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon riots.

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