Activist Sudha Bharadwaj seeks bail on medical grounds, SC advises this
The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that Bhima Koregaon accused Sudha Bharadwaj, has good grounds to seek bail on merits of her case while it declined to entertain her bail plea filed on medical grounds.
A bench headed by justice UU Lalit said that the court was not inclined to grant bail to her on medical grounds but suggested that she moved a plea for bail on merits of the case.
“We are not with you on medical grounds. You have a good case on merits. Why are you not filing for bail on merits,” the bench comprising justices UU Lalit and Ajay Rastogi asked.
Bharadwaj’s counsel, Vrinda Grover then agreed to withdraw the bail plea on medical grounds saying they will try for bail on merits of the case.
Bharadwaj had sought bail citing vulnerability to Covid -19 due to co-morbidities.
The Bombay high court had rejected her plea on August 28 after which she moved the Supreme Court in appeal.
Bharadwaj was arrested by Maharashtra police in 2018 for allegedly inciting violence during the celebration of 200th anniversary of the battle at Bhima Koregaon between the British East India Company and the Peshwas. The company army was comprised largely of persons from Dalit community and the event is celebrated by them.
Bharadwaj along with activists Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Anand Teltumbde, and Gautam Navlakha have been charged with offences under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for their alleged role in inciting the violence.
Bharadwaj was initially lodged at Yerawada jail in Pune before she was shifted to Byculla jail.
After the change of government in Maharashtra in 2019, the central government had intervened and transferred the investigation to National Investigation Agency (NIA) from Maharashtra police.
Grover, on Thursday, argued that Bharadwaj had developed two new diseases while in custody - ischemic heart disease and arthritis.
“Ischemic heart disease is a ticking time bomb. Anytime, her condition can deteriorate,” Grover said, seeking bail so that Bharadwaj can be subjected to a detailed medical examination.
Grover also submitted that Bharadwaj was a lawyer in Chhattisgarh who used to fight cases on behalf of marginalised sections of the society.
“No incriminating material was recovered from me or my electronic devices. I was teaching at National Law University, Delhi when I was arrested,” Grover argued.
“Why are you not filing for bail on merits,” asked justice Lalit.
“You have a good case on merits,” said justice Rastogi while also taking exception to certain submissions made by Bharadwaj before Bombay high court regarding the medical report submitted by jail authorities on August 21 which did not mention Bharadwaj’s condition of ischemic heart disease.
The court made it clear that it will not grant bail on medical grounds.
Bharadwaj’s bail plea on medical grounds was earlier rejected by a special NIA court on May 29.