Barely four hours after he passed an order granting “transit remand” of Civil Rights lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj to Maharashtra police, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ashok Kumar, late Tuesday night, recalled the decision, directing instead that Bharadwaj be kept at her home in Faridabad until August 30, when the matter is to come up for hearing at the High Court once again.
“The matter is subjudice before the Hon’ble High Court and it will be prudent to wait for the orders of the Hon’ble High Court where the case is listed for 30/08/2018, therefore in compliance of order of Hon’ble High Court, the transit remand issued in the earlier hours at 7.40 pm is recalled till 30/08/2018 with direction to the SHO Surajkund to keep the detenue Sudha Bharadwaj at her home at Badarpur Border…” states the order.
The document goes on to add that the “File be put up before the undersigned on 30/8/2018 or 31/8/2018 after passing further orders by the Hon’ble High Court.”
The development came after several hours of high drama in Faridabad, following the earlier order of the CJM, which had come only moments after the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, where the matter was being heard simultaneously, adjourned hearing on a habeas corpus plea against the detention for two days.
The order had stated, “in case the detenue is produced before the concerned Illaqa Magistrate/Duty Magistrate/Chief Judicial Magistrate, Faridabad, the order granting transit remand will be passed after going through the contents of the FIR and recording a finding that the provision of Section 41 and 50 of the Criminal Procedure Code have been complied with. Till then the detenue Sudha Bharadwaj shall be kept at the same place i.e. her home at Badarpur Border in the state of Haryana, from where she was arrested…”
The CJM had granted “transit remand” to police, with Bharadwaj’s lawyers stating that he had based this decision on the “facts” before him, claiming he had not received any information from the High Court regarding such an order.
Following the decision, Bharadwaj was whisked away from the court by a team of police personnel, with her lawyers afterwards claiming that they had no idea of her whereabouts. They alleged that she was being taken to the airport when the Investigating Officer received a phone call and was asked to return.
It was around 10.30 pm that proceedings shifted back to the CJM’s house. Although Bharadwaj’s lawyers have alleged that they were initially not allowed into the premises, the CJM eventually admitted them and heard arguments.
Bharadwaj, her friends say, was picked up from her home in Faridabad’s Sector 39 around 7 am, when a team of 10 police personnel arrived at her doorstep. They claimed they had seized two laptops, two mobile phones, and one pen drive from her phone, and also taken down the passwords of her social media and email accounts.
Speaking to the press, Bharadwaj had said earlier in the day, “I basically think that whatever is the opposition to the present regime, whether it is on the issue of tribal rights or workers’ right or human rights, whatever it is, or Dalit rights for that matter, everybody who is in the opposition is being rounded up in this manner. I have been working for the last 30 years, and I know very well, I am absolutely a public figure, everybody knows about my credentials, I have nothing to do with the incident in the FIR.”
“My mobiles, my laptops, my pen drive, have been seized by the police and I am pretty sure and I really apprehend that they are going to play around with my data. My Gmail password has been taken, my Twitter password has been taken, I really don’t know what they are going to do with all that. That is data which is in the air, that is nothing that you can seal by just sticking cellotape on it,” she said.