Updated: December 10, 2021 7:47:45 am
Lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in the Elgaar Parishad case in August 2018, was released from Byculla women’s jail on Thursday afternoon after spending over three years in jail.
The 60-year-old was released at 12.40 pm, a day after the special court in Mumbai set conditions for her release and issued a release order. Her lawyers received the release order late on Wednesday evening. Bharadwaj was received outside the Mumbai prison by her daughter Maaysha and her friends.
The court has barred Bharadwaj from making any statement about the proceedings of the case to electronic, print or on social media. She has also been directed not to leave the jurisdiction of the Mumbai court without its permission. Her lawyers had requested that she should be allowed to travel between Mumbai, Haryana, where she resides, and Chhattisgarh, where she was a practicing lawyer before her arrest.
Bharadwaj has been directed to attend court proceedings and ensure that the trial is not protracted due to her absence. She has also been directed not to establish any communication with her co-accused.
Bharadwaj was among the nine accused arrested by the Pune police in 2018 on allegations that they had conspired and organised the Elgaar Parishad event in Pune on December 31, 2017. She was first sent to the women’s prison in Yerawada, Pune. After the case was transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in January last year, she was shifted to the Byculla women’s jail in February 2020.
On December 1, the Bombay High Court granted her default bail, stating that the additional sessions judge who had extended her custody beyond 90 days under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act did not have the jurisdiction to do so.
While the NIA arrested seven others last year, Bharadwaj is the first accused to be granted bail in the case. Her co-accused, Telugu poet Varavara Rao, was granted interim medical bail earlier this year. Another co-accused, Father Stan Swamy, died at a private hospital in July while his interim medical bail plea was sub-judice.
Along with Bharadwaj, former professor Shoma Sen and cultural group Kabir Kala Manch member, Jyoti Jagtap, are also in Byculla women’s jail. While the NIA has submitted draft charges against the accused, the charges are yet to be framed and the trial is yet to begin.
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