Court permits Gautam Navlakha’s companion to visit him in Prison

Human Rights Activist Gautam Navlakha LAW INSIDER

Ambika Bhardwaj

Published On: December 31, 2021 at 15:26 IST

A special Court on Thursday permitted an application filed by activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Elgaar Parishad Case, to enable his companion Sahba Husain to meet him in jail cell.

Navlakha has been lodged in Taloja Central Jail from last April. Since October, the state prison department has resumed physical mulaqats (meetings) in jails, that were stopped in March the year before due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Husain had travelled from Delhi to Mumbai last month to meet Navlakha but she was not allowed to meet him. Only blood relatives and spouses are permitted to meet Prisoners physically in Prisons, according to rules.

Husain went to Taloja jail on November 26 and also was given a token to meet Navlakha, but she was told that the visit was not feasible because she is not a close relative or his partner.

Husain stated that she ended up waiting from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and asked for permission from jail officials to meet with Navlakha, who is a senior citizen who had travelled from Delhi. “However, I was refused permission, so we went to Court,” she added.

Special Judge Dinesh E Kothalikar had asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Taloja jail for a reply to the Plea. The prison Authorities have stated that if the NIA confirms Husain’s identity, they will give approval for the meeting.

The Court allowed the meeting on Thursday, directing the NIA to authenticate Husain’s information and send a report to the jail. It also approved a request by activist Sudhir Dhawale, who is also imprisoned in the same facility, to meet with a friend after thorough review by the agency.

Navlakha also filed a Petition requesting an hour of sunlight and fresh air every day. Navlakha and a few others were transferred to a high-security cell in the jail cell in October. Husain later stated that his health was deteriorating given the lack of availability of fresh air.

Many Defendants in the Case, such as former Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow Mahesh Raut, Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu, members of the cultural group Kabir Kala Manch Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor, academician Anand Teltumbde, and Dhawale, made submissions about not being permitted medicines in jail, which were earlier permitted, and about absence of availability to treatment.

The Court ordered the Prison Superintendent to make a report on the needs and accessibility of prescribed medications in jail cell, as well as to refer those who need to be medically analysed to a public hospital.

It also stated that reports on two other applications are awaited. The Court requested a report from the superintendent, claiming that there had been no timely compliance.

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