The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Thursday that it will take jailed activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, for a medical check-up to the Tata Memorial Hospital in neighbouring Navi Mumbai on Friday.
The state’s counsel, public prosecutor Sangeeta Shinde, made the statement before a bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar after Gautam Navlakha moved the High Court earlier in the day, seeking directions to authorities of the Navi Mumbai-based Taloja prison, where he is currently lodged, to get him examined for a lump developed in his chest in March this year while in prison.
In his plea, Gautam Navlakha, 69, also sought that he be placed under house arrest as part of his judicial custody, owing to his advanced age and a host medical ailments that he suffers from.
Gautam Navlakha cited the Supreme Court’s order issued in May this year, whereby the Supreme Court had dismissed his default bail plea, but found merit in treating house arrest as an alternative form of detention, especially for such undertrials who are aged or suffering from serious medical ailments.
In his plea, Gautam Navlakha also said that with 15 people accused in the case, the charge sheet spanning over 30,000 pages and over 150 witnesses to be examined, to continue to subject him to “incarceration till the completion of the trial would be extremely unjust, harsh, and cruel”.
The activist said he had always cooperated with the probe into the case and that he was a fit candidate for house arrest.
Gautam Navlakha’s counsels Yug Chaudhry and Payoshi Roy also told the High Court that they had already written to the Taloja prison authorities seeking a medical check up for the lump in his chest, but were yet to hear anything from them.
They told the High Court that Gautam Navlakha also suffered from hypertension that he developed while in prison, and several other ailments.
The activist in his plea claimed the Taloja prison was grossly inept at treating serious medical ailments suffered by inmates.
He also claimed the Taloja prison staff had been callous towards the health and other needs of inmates in the past.
The Taloja prison authorities had repeatedly acted in a “callous manner in the past, endangering the lives of the inmates, including the petitioner’s co-accused in the case,” Gautam Navlakha said in the plea.