Activist Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case, last week moved the Bombay High Court against an order of the special NIA court in Mumbai, which on May 29 had rejected her interim bail plea.
Bharadwaj (58), currently lodged in Mumbai’s Byculla Women’s jail – where an inmate had tested positive for Covid-19 last month – had sought temporary bail before the special court on medical grounds in view of the pandemic. The plea was rejected by the court.
In her plea, the activist had said that she was at a high-risk of contracting the virus in the prison, and in her current medical condition, it could be “life threatening”. Her lawyers had submitted that she has pre-existing medical conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure. The criminal writ plea has been filed on similar grounds before the HC, challenging the NIA court order.
Bharadwaj was arrested in August 2018 by the Pune Police for her alleged involvement in the conspiracy to organise the Elgaar Parishad event in Pune on December 31, 2017. The police had claimed that the public meeting was linked to the banned-organisation CPI (Maoist). The case was transferred to the NIA this year, and Bharadwaj, along with the other co-accused in the case, were shifted to a Mumbai jail from Pune. The bail applications of co-accused poet-activist Varavara Rao and former professor-activist Shoma Sen are also pending before the NIA court.
Meanwhile, lawyer Surendra Gadling and poet-publisher Sudhir Dhawale, also arrested in the Elgaar Parishad case, had last week approached the HC challenging the transfer of the case to NIA. A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice Abhay Ahuja is likely to take up the pleas by Dhawale and Bharadwaj on Tuesday.
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