SC to consider listing NIA’s plea against Bombay HC order granting default bail to Sudha Bharadwaj


PTI, Dec 6, 2021, 12:39 PM IST

The Supreme Court Monday said it would consider submissions seeking urgent hearing of NIA’s plea challenging the Bombay High Court order granting default bail to lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj who was arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case in August 2018 under the provisions of stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

“We will see,” said the bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli when solicitor general Tushar Mehta sought urgent hearing of the plea.

“The matter pertains to grant of default bail and this order will be in effect from December 8, so this case needs to be heard,” Mehta said.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had moved the top court earlier against the high court’s December 1 order which that Bharadwaj, accused of being part of a conspiracy to overthrow the Union government, was entitled to bail and its denial would be in breach of her fundamental right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The high court had directed that Bharadwaj, lodged in the Byculla women’s prison, be produced before the Mumbai special NIA court on December 8, and conditions of her bail and date of release be decided.

Bharadwaj is the first among 16 activists and academicians arrested in the case to have been granted default bail.

Poet-activist Varavara Rao is currently out on medical bail.

Jesuit priest Stan Swamy died in a private hospital here on July 5 this year while waiting for medical bail. The others are in custody as undertrials.

The high court had rejected the default bail plea filed by eight other co-accused in the case — Sudhir Dhawale, Varavara Rao, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the city’s outskirts.

The Pune police had claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists. The probe in the case was later transferred to the NIA.

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