Sudha Bhardwaj bail plea: No illegality in 2018 sessions court order, State, NIA to Bombay HC
The state government and National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday, argued against the default bail application of Elgar Parishad accused Sudha Bharadwaj. The state and NIA admitted that there could be an irregularity on the part of the judge who signed orders taking cognisance of the charge sheet, however, there was no illegality in the order.
The state argued that though judge KD Vadane signed the orders pretending to be a special judge under the NIA Act while he was only an additional session judge, there was no illegality in the order as the Act stipulates that such cases could be heard by any competent court and the sessions court was competent, hence the application of Bharadwaj for default bail should be dismissed.
A division bench of justice SS Shinde and justice NJ Jamadar, while hearing the default bail application of Bharadwaj had been informed by advocate Yug Choudhry that Bharadwaj and her co-accused had been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which deals with scheduled offences, and cognisance of such offences could only be a special court. Choudhry had submitted that judge Vadane, who had taken cognisance of the charge sheet and signed the orders as a special judge, was only an additional sessions judge at the time, hence, in light of such a lapse, Bharadwaj was entitled to default bail.
While responding to Choudhry’s submissions, on Friday, advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni for the state said, “Can it be said that just because cognisance was taken by someone who did not have jurisdiction, a person is entitled to default bail? This cognisance aspect cannot make them (Bharadwaj and her co-accused) entitled to default bail. Let us not make a mountain out of a molehill.”
Kumbhakoni argued that the sessions court taking cognisance of the Pune Police’s case could be considered as an irregularity, but not illegality. He added that the petition by Bharadwaj did not mention that there was a failure of justice, or any prejudice was caused because of the lapse.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh for NIA concurred with Kumbhakoni’s submissions and said that there was no irregularity in the sessions court taking cognisance of the case. “All sessions judges are equal. There is no greater or so, it is merely a question of notification distinguishing them as so,” said Singh adding that as the charge sheet had been filed within the stipulated 90 days the right for default bail ceased to exist, hence the claims of Bharadwaj could not be entertained.
Further hearing of the petition will continue on August 2.