The PIL Watch Group views with serious concern the reporting in the print edition of Hindustan Times (HT) dated 25 July, 2020 (later uploaded on its website) regarding Gautam Navlakha’s interrogation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) about Bhima Koregaon case. Questions arise:

  1. Was it a planted story in the HT as no other newspaper or news agency carried it on that day?
  2. Under which law of the country was the NIA briefing a newspaper about a pending investigation which has the potential to irreparably damage the reputation of Gautam Navlakha and his right to a fair trial?
  3. Since when has attending a seminar on Kashmir become a criminal offence? Certain constitutional changes regarding Kashmir have taken place a year back but they are under challenge in the Supreme Court. In any case the alleged attendance of seminar by Gautam Navlakha took place much before August 2019.
  4. Since when has visits to jungles become a cognizable offence? Both Jayaprakash Narayan and Acharya Vinoba Bhave had visited the dense jungles of Chambal valley to get the dacoits into the mainstream life. Gautam, too, in a different context was attempting to deepen democracy.
  5. Journalistic ethics demand that the reporting should not have been done without Gautam Navlakha’s point of view being carried. Why was this basic principle violated? Why should the Press Council of India not take suo motu action against the paper?
  6. Why should the National Human Rights Commission not take cognizance of this development because at stake are the human rights of Gautam Navlakha which are being violated while he is in custody? Additionally NHRC should summon the NIA official who leaked the information to HT during an ongoing investigation.
  7. Is the editor of HT aware of the various judicial orders/government guidelines safeguarding the rights of people in custody in similar situations?

 

Dr. P. S. Sahni & Shobha Aggarwal

Members, PIL Watch Group

Email: pilwatchgroup@gmail.com


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