NIA ‘Hurriedly Transfered’ Navlakha: Court

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New Delhi: Delhi High Court has pulled up the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for “hurriedly transferring” social activist Gautam Navlakha, who is facing probe for his alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, to Mumbai.

A bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani on Wednesday said that frantic hurry was shown by the NIA in moving Navlakha from Delhi to Mumbai while a matter related to his interim bail plea was pending and the NIA had itself sought time to file a status report.

“While ordinarily, this court would not see too much cause for hurry in this case, in view of the inexplicable, frantic hurry shown by the NIA in moving the applicant from Delhi to Mumbai while this matter was pending and the NIA had itself sought time to file a status report, this court does get a sense that all proceedings in this jurisdiction would be rendered utterly infructuous if an element of urgency is not brought to bear on the present proceedings,” the court said.

“Prima-facie it appears that while on the last date, this court had granted adequate time to the NIA to file its status report in response to the interim bail plea; and while the NIA has filed an affidavit opposing that plea, the NIA has acted in unseemly haste to instead remove the applicant out of the very jurisdiction of this court; and, if the applicant is right, without even informing the Special Judge (NIA), Mumbai or the Special Judge (NIA), Delhi of the pendency of the present proceedings,” the court said.

Nitya Ramakrishnan, counsel for the applicant Navlakha, had submitted that while the present proceedings are pending, a hearing for extension of the applicant”s judicial remand was conducted on May 23 before the Special Judge (NIA), Delhi; and at the NIA”s request, the applicant”s judicial remand was extended up to June 22.

Ramakrishnan said that on May 24, although a Sunday, an application was moved by the NIA before the Special Judge (NIA), Mumbai seeking production warrants for the applicant before that court; which was allowed and warrants were issued for the production of the applicant before the Special Judge (NIA), Mumbai on May 26 at 11 am.

“Based upon the production warrants issued, an application was moved by the concerned Jail Superintendent, Tihar Jail, Delhi on May 25, being a Gazetted holiday on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, seeking a transit order to transfer Navlakha from Delhi to Mumbai. Navlakha is presently stated to be lodged in Taloja Jail in Mumbai,” Ramakrishnan said.

Superintendent of Police Vikram Khalate, the IO for NIA, had joined the hearing and said that he had moved an application before the Principal District Judge for issuance of production warrants on May 23, which came to be listed before the Special Judge (NIA), Mumbai on May 24, on which date the court issued production warrants for the applicant for May 26.

Khalate explained that it was learned that the lockdown was reopening for inter-state flights on May 25 and being unsure of the future course of events in relation to the lockdown, he moved an application on May 23 for issuance of production warrants.

The court later summoned application moved by the NIA in Delhi seeking the extension of his judicial custody as well as the complete copy of the proceedings in Mumbai on the application seeking Navlakha’s production.

It also sought the application filed by the Tihar jail seeking transfer of the accused from court records and listed the matter for further hearing on June 3.

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