Bhima-Koregaon case: Sudha Bharadwaj’s bail plea hearing adjourned

High Court finds medical report submitted by Byculla jail officials to be illegible

Published - July 20, 2020 11:01 pm IST - Mumbai

Sudha Bharadwaj. File photo: Jignesh Mistry

Sudha Bharadwaj. File photo: Jignesh Mistry

Hearing of the interim medical bail plea filed by Bhima-Koregaon case accused Sudha Bharadwaj was adjourned in the Bombay High Court on Monday after the court found the medical report submitted by the Byculla jail superintendent to be illegible.

A Division Bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and S.P. Tavade was hearing a criminal appeal filed by advocate and activist Ms. Bharadwaj. She was arrested on August 28, 2018, from her house at Faridabad and was at Yerwada jail before being moved to Byculla jail.

On July 10, the HC directed the Byculla jail authorities to submit a report on theconditions inside the prison. A report was submitted on Monday, but the court found it to be illegible and adjourned the matter to be heard on July 23.

The 58-year-old activist sought bail on the grounds that she has pre-existing medical conditions of diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension and a history of pulmonary tuberculosis, making her extremely susceptible to contracting COVID-19 in Byculla jail. She also has extremely painful swelling in her joints and a frozen shoulder that restrict her movement.

A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on May 29 had rejected Ms. Bharadwaj’s interim bail plea on medical grounds.

NIA opposes plea

On July 1, the NIA opposed her bail in the HC and said, “Ms. Bhardwaj under the garb of the current situation on account of the COVID-19 pandemic is trying to take an undue benefit in seeking bail on the grounds mentioned in her application.”

NIA said the “evidence on record established” Ms. Bharadwaj, along with other accused, encouraged cadres to join banned Maoist organisations.

The agency also said, “The available evidence on record clearly established that Ms. Bharadwaj along with other accused was involved in selecting and encouraging cadres for recruitment in the banned Maoist organisation to go underground in a ‘struggle area’.”

Meanwhile, the same Division Bench on Monday directed the NIA and the State to file a reply to a plea filed by Ms. Bharadwaj’s co-accused Vernon Gonsalves (61) and Anand Teltumbde (68), urging the court to pass directions for a swab test to be conducted as they were in close proximity of Varavara Rao (81) inside Taloja Central Jail, who has tested COVID-19 positive.

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