The National Investigating Agency (NIA) has filed an affidavit challenging the bail application filed by lawyer and former professor Sudha Bharadwaj in the Elgaar Parishad case, at the Bombay High Court. It argues that she is “taking undue benefit” of the Covid-19 pandemic in seeking interim bail on medical grounds.
“Sudha Bhardwaj is duly attended in the jail prison, and is being provided with all the necessary medical assistance, as and when required. It is clear that the pleading with regard to the medical condition of the petitioner is merely a ruse to obtain an order of interim relief which is not available to the petitioner on the merits of the case”, the NIA says.
Bharadwaj is a 58-year-old former law professor of National Law University Delhi. She is a legal activist who has practiced law in service of people from marginalized communities for over 15 years. She was arrested on August 28, 2018 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on allegations of her role in the Elgar Parishad event and Bhima Koregaon violence case.
In her bail plea, Bharadwaj, who is lodged in Byculla women’s jail in Mumbai, has sought interim bail on the ground that she suffers from two severe comorbidities – diabetes and high-blood pressure. Further, it has been submitted that she has a history of pulmonary tuberculosis and therefore she is at a high risk of contracting coronavirus in prison, which could be life threatening due to her pre-existing medical condition.
Arguments by the Appellant
The petition highlights guidelines issued by the Government of India on “Health Advisory for Elderly Population”. The Government’s guidelines itself place people of Sudha Bharadwaj’s health conditions under the category of high risk. Further, a High Powered Committee constituted by the Maharashtra Government had recommended interim bail to inmates with underlying medical conditions and higher risks should be the committee has urged such inmates to apply for bail to the concerned court.
Bharadwaj’s bail plea has been filed by advocates Yug Chaudhury and Ragini Ahuja, against the order of the Special Judge, NIA, dated May 29 rejecting bail application of her.