Sudha Bharadwaj was arrested by the Pune City Police last year for her alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoists. (Express Photo By Ashish Kale)
A SPECIAL court in Mumbai on Friday rejected the interim bail application of activist Sudha Bharadwaj arrested in the Elgar Parishad case. Bharadwaj (58) is lodged in Byculla women’s jail where earlier this month an inmate had tested positive for Covid-19.
In her interim bail plea filed on medical grounds, Bharadwaj had said that she is at a high risk of contracting the virus in prison and in her present medical condition, it would be ‘life-threatening’. Her lawyers had submitted before the court that she has pre-existing medical conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure.
“The applicant (Bharadwaj) belongs to the most vulnerable category facing high fataility rate should she contract coronoavirus. If she continues to remain in incarceration, there is grave danger to her life,” the bail plea said. She had also submitted that no social distancing was possible in the jail given its space constraints.
Bharadwaj was arrested in August 2018 by the Pune police which claimed her involvement in the conspiracy to organise the Elgar Parishad public meeting in Pune on December 31, 2017, alleging that it was linked to banned organisation CPI (Maoist). The case was tranferred to NIA this year and she along with other co-accused was shifted to Mumbai from Pune.
The NIA opposed the interim bail plea stating that her earlier bail applications were rejected. Special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty also submitted that since she has been booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Bharadwaj cannot be granted interim relief citing Coronavirus. He also referred to the high-powered committee’s recommendations which said that all undertrials be released apart from those booked for particular offences including under UAPA. Bharadwaj’s lawyer had submitted that the committee had directed courts to consider bail pleas of those exempted in its recommendations based on medical grounds or circumstances of the case.
The detailed order of the special court rejecting the bail plea is yet to be made available. The bail applications of co-accused poet and activist 81-year old Varavara Rao and 61-year old former professor and activist Shoma Sen is pending before the court and is likely to be heard next week.
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