THE SUPREME Court on Monday granted bail to Chhattisgarh-based freelance journalist Santosh Yadav, saying no fruitful purpose was served by keeping him confined after 17 months. The bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan told the trial court to facilitate Yadav’s release after he meets bail conditions.
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Yadav’s counsel Kishore Narayan said, “The bench said that all things considered they saw it fit to give Santosh Yadav bail. They also said that since he lives only 150 metres from the police station, he must keep the police informed of his whereabouts.”
Yadav was arrested under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act for “associating with a terrorist organisation” and “supporting and aiding terrorist groups”.
Yadav’s family, based in Darbha village that is 30 km from Jagdalpur, said the charges were trumped up. In December 2015, his wife Poonam Yadav and father Budhram had told The Indian Express that the police had put pressure on him to become an informer, and assaulted him when he refused.
Yadav was arrested hours after a reported altercation with senior police officers in Darbha, after he had asked the police about five villagers missing from Badrimau village.
Isha Khandelwal, a lawyer with Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group that fought Yadav’s case, and Somaru Nag, a journalist who has since been released, said when the police first picked up Yadav, they alleged that he was in touch with a Maoist leader.