The Bombay High Court Friday dismissed the bail plea by Sudha Bharadwaj, one of the activists arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case, filed on medical grounds and co-morbidities in view of the Covid-19 outbreak in prisons. The court said the state will continue providing medical aid in prison for ailments. Bhardwaj is lodged in Mumbai’s Byculla Women’s Jail.
Bharadwaj had filed an appeal before the Bombay HC against special NIA court’s rejection of her interim bail plea on medical grounds.
A division bench of Justices R D Dhanuka and V G Bisht on Friday perused a state government prison’s report which stated that Bharadwaj had been examined in prison by a medical officer and her condition was found to be ‘stable and satisfactory.’
On Tuesday, the high court had directed the state government to provide copies of the latest medical reports of Bharadwaj, Anand Teltumbde and Vernon Gonsalves, accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, to their families, lawyers and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) by today. The court had held that the accused and their families had a right to know the status of their health and should be given the reports without any delay.
Advocate Ragini Ahuja said that Bharadwaj suffered from chronic ailments such as diabetes and hypertension and these comorbidities put her at a high risk of contracting Covid-19 in prison. Ahuja told the Court that there was a contradiction between the July 23 and August 21 medical reports of Bharadwaj and said that while the medical report of July had said that her vital parameters were on the higher side and she had heart ischemia, but August report stated the vital parameters were normal and there was no mention of heart ischemia.
“The two reports are contrary to each other and the report dated August 21 might be bogus. How can a person recover completely of a heart condition in just four weeks,” Ahuja said.
She said the latest report was ‘inconsistent’ and Bharadwaj’s conditions required proper treatment and therefore sought interim bail on medical grounds.
However, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh (ASG) for NIA and Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare for state government told the Court that if Bharadwaj required further treatment and if required to be admitted to the hospital including a private one, the authorities would provide the same. Singh said that co-accused Varavara Rao had been admitted to JJ Hospital and then was shifted to the private Nanavati hospital for the best treatment on Covid-19 and other ailments. The Court also noted the submissions made by NIA and the state government that they were taking all precautions to contain Covid-19 spread in prisons.
After hearing submissions and perusing medical reports, the bench said that the present medical report probably only dealt with Bharadwaj’s vital parameters with respect to Covid-19 and said that there was no substance in the appellant’s submissions on inconsistencies in the medical report.
The bench dismissed interim bail plea on medical grounds and noted in the order, “In our view, no case is made out for grant of bail. This appeal is devoid of merits.”
On Thursday, Bharadwaj’s daughter Mayesha Bharadwaj had said that the activist has developed a heart ailment, “clearly triggered by the stress” she is facing in jail, as she “never had any heart-related complaints before she was taken in custody” in October 2018.
A jail medical report of July 23, given to Bharadwaj’s family, states that she is suffering from Ischemic Heart Disease, a heart problem caused by narrowing of arteries that causes reduced blood flow to the heart muscle and can lead to heart attack, Mayesha said in a press note issued on Wednesday.
“Doctors consulted explained such condition…as serious that could lead to a heart attack. The medical report obtained from the jail does not clarify when this condition was diagnosed, nor does it explain the basis for this diagnosis,” Mayesha stated.
Bharadwaj was arrested, along with 11 others, over alleged Maoist links and their alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018.
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