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Gautam Navlakha Released

Gautam Navlakha was released from custody, which had been in the form of house arrest in Navi Mumbai, on Saturday late evening, at around 8:30 pm.
Gautam Navlakha with his partner Sahba Husain. Photo by special arrangement

New Delhi: Gautam Navlakha was released from custody, which had been in the form of house arrest in Navi Mumbai, on Saturday late evening, at around 8:30 pm.

The Supreme Court on May 14 lifted the stay on the bail granted to rights activist Gautam Navlakha, who was arrested in the Elgar Parishad case.

Senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan appeared for Navlakha, while Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju appeared for the National Investigation Agency.

The Bombay high court had granted Navlakha bail on December 19 last year, but the court had then agreed to a three-week stay on its decision in which the National Investigation Agency could approach the Supreme Court.

He was arrested on April 14, 2020. Since November 19, 2022, he had been under house arrest in Mumbai.

The Elgar Parishad case, in which 16 rights activists, lawyers, writers and academics were arrested, has come under severe criticism over the years. The investigating agencies have been accused of using hackers to plant evidence on the electronic devices of the accused.

Who were granted bail?

Telugu poet Varavara Rao, who was accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, was given bail, on medical grounds, for six months in February 2021.

While the bail was extended, the Bombay high court rejected his plea for permanent bail in April 2022, the Indian Express reported. However, in August 2022, the Supreme Court granted Rao bail on medical grounds, since he had already spent more than two years as an undertrial.

In April, Shoma Sen was granted bail in the case. In 2021, trade unionist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj got default bail.

In 2022, activist Anand Teltumbde got bail on merits.

In 2023, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira also got bail on merits. Mahesh Raut was also given bail by the Bombay high court on merits, but the order was stayed by the same court and extended by the Supreme Court, as Navlakha’s bail was until today.

Who are still behind bars?

Those who continue to remain behind bars include journalist-activist Sudhir Dhawale, activist Rona Wilson, lawyer Surendra Gadling, Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu, and cultural artists and activists Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, and Jyoti Jagtap.

The appeals of Wilson, Gadling, and Dhawale are currently pending before the high court, following the previous rejection of their pleas by a special court. Meanwhile, Babu’s bail plea is pending before the Supreme Court. On October 17, 2023, a High Court bench rejected the bail plea of Jyoti Jagtap.

The Bombay high court granted bail to activist Mahesh Raut on September 21 of last year, but he has not yet been released.

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