Updated: June 11, 2021 7:17:31 pm
The Bombay High Court on Friday has allowed a division bench to hear the default bail plea of activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, who is currently lodged in Byculla women’s prison in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case, instead of a single-judge bench.
Bharadwaj, through her counsel, advocate Yug Mohit Chaudhry, had submitted that the chargesheet in the case was not filed within the statutory 90-day period and, hence, she was entitled to a default bail as per the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is currently probing the case, had sought to respond to the plea. However, in view of past Supreme Court judgment, a single-judge bench of Justice Sarang V Kotwal on Friday directed its registry to place Bharadwaj’s plea before a division bench for further hearing.
In the plea, advocate Chaudhry had contended that since the case is currently being investigated by the NIA, the matter had to be heard by a division bench of two judges, as per the scheme provided under the NIA Act.
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A chargesheet against Bharadwaj was filed by the Pune Police in February 2019 but the investigation was taken over by the NIA in January 2020.
He added that even though the order of the trial court, which is challenged by Bharadwaj, was passed before the NIA took over the probe, the matter should be heard by a division bench since the case is currently probed by NIA. Chaudhry also argued that the Pune Sessions court was “not competent” to grant an extension of time to Pune Police to file the chargesheet against Bharadwaj.
Last month, a vacation bench of HC, which was hearing a medical bail filed by Maaysha Singh, the daughter of Bharadwaj, had said that prisoners are entitled to access their own medical records and that prisoners should be allowed to make a phone call to a family member after a hospital visit. HC had disposed of the medical bail plea after Singh’s lawyer submitted that Bharadwaj had received treatment.
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