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Elgar Parishad case | Delhi HC says NIA acted in haste in taking Navlakha to Mumbai

Activist Gautam Navlakha being arrested by the Pune police at his residence in Nehru Enclave in Delhi on August 28, 2018.

Activist Gautam Navlakha being arrested by the Pune police at his residence in Nehru Enclave in Delhi on August 28, 2018.   | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Navlakha was taken to Mumbai by train on May 26.

he Delhi High Court has questioned the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for acting in "inexplicable, frantic hurry" to whisk away civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha to Mumbai, even when his interim bail plea was pending before the high court here.

Justice Anup J. Bhambhani, who conducted the hearing through video conferencing, remarked that the NIA moved applications across Mumbai and Delhi courts over weekends and Gazetted holidays and even obtained orders by e-mail, at the risk of rendering the interim bail plea proceedings infructuous.

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In last hearing, the high court had granted time to NIA to file its status report in response to Mr Navlakha's interim bail plea.

While the NIA has filed an affidavit opposing that plea, it also acted in "unseemly haste to instead remove the applicant out of the very jurisdiction of this court".

"In view of the inexplicable, frantic hurry shown by the NIA in moving the applicant from Delhi to Mumbai while this matter was pending," the high court also decided to act fast and seek an explanation from NIA.

It noted, "this court does get a sense that all proceedings in this jurisdiction would be rendered utterly infructuous if an element of of urgency is not brought to bear on the present proceedings".

The high court adjourned the case proceeding, which began around 10.30 am on Wedensday till 1 pm the same day and directed the Investigating Officer, NIA, Mumbai to join the court proceedings through video conferencing.

As an explanation for the hurry for issuance of production warrants, the NIA Investigating Officer from Mumbai stated that he had moved an application before the Principal District Judge for issuance of production warrants on May 23 (Saturday), which came to be listed before the Special Judge (NIA), Mumbai on May 24 (Sunday), on which date the court issued production warrants for the applicant for 11 a.m. on May 26.

The high court then ordered that all the documents relating to the transit application, production warrants, and other related documents must be submitted before it by next date of hearing on June 3.

Mr Navlakha had moved an interim bail plea on medical grounds in view of the prevailing public health emergency. The 67-year-old activist stated that in view of the precarious state of his health and advanced age, it was unsafe to keep him in prison during the pandemic.

Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, appearing for Mr Navlakha, contended that the only purpose for which the NIA has taken such hasty actions is to render the present proceedings infructuous and to take the applicant out of the jurisdiction of this court. She submitted that by moving Mr Navlakha to Mumbai, which has suffered the highest number of infections and deaths due to COVID-19 virus, he has been exposed to even more serious health risk. Mr Navlakha is presently stated to be lodged in Taloja Jail in Mumbai.

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Printable version | Jul 9, 2020 2:46:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/elgar-parishad-case-delhi-hc-says-nia-acted-in-haste-in-taking-navlakha-to-mumbai/article31693912.ece

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