‘Naxalism can’t be dealt with kid gloves’: SG opposes Gautam Navlakha’s house arrest

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Friday vehemently contested the Supreme Court order allowing activist Gautam Navlakha, accused in Bhima Koregaon case, to be placed under house arrest, saying that the nation cannot deal with ‘Naxalism’ (Maoism) with kid gloves.

Mehta, representing the National Investigation Agency (NIA), contended before a bench of Justices K.M. Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy that “this man (Navlakha) had ISI links and links with separatists of Jammu and Kashmir”.

Seeking vacation of Navlakha’s house arrest order, Mehta said that Article 14 of the Constitution says all are equal before law, but here is a case, which says some are more equal than the others. At this, the bench told Mehta that all conditions that Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju wanted to be incorporated were included in the house arrest order and in that sense, it was an agreed order.

However, Raju, also appearing for the NIA, countered this and said it was not an agreed order. The NIA told the apex court that Navlakha didn’t disclose that his brother-in-law works at Jaslok hospital where he wanted to go for a medical check-up. Navlakha’s counsel retorted that they had told the high court that his sister worked there earlier. The NIA counsel said but he did not disclose about brother-in-law working there.

Mehta said there are other prisoners also, who are older than this man and suffering from same ailments but here is a UAPA accused, who wants to be in house arrest.

“Naxalism cannot be dealt with by our nation with kid gloves. That’s the perception I am trying to project.I didn’t mean to annoy the court. I am not apologetic about my perception but I am apologetic to the court,” he said.

The bench said Mehta has every right to have his perception.

The apex court also warned the NIA, if it is attempting to find out any loopholes to defy the court’s order, then in those circumstances, it will be viewed seriously.

The top court declined to entertain NIA plea seeking vacation of November 10 order allowing activist Gautam Navlakha to be placed under house arrest.

During the hearing, the bench remarked “If with the entire police force you cannot keep a watch on a 70-year-old ailing man, then think about the weakness…please do not say such a thing.” It further made an oral observation, “with all the might of the state, you are not able to keep a 70-year-old ailing man in house confinement”.

The top court ordered Navlakha to be placed under house arrest “without fail” within 24 hours.

On November 10, the top court had allowed Navlakha to be placed under house arrest after considering his deteriorating health and also asked him to provide local surety of Rs 2 lakh by November 14.

20221118-223202

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