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SC asks Sudha Bharadwaj to file bail plea on merits

File photo of activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj being taken into custody at Faraskhana police station in Pune.  

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, who is languishing in jail for two years in the Bhima Koregaon case, why she is seeking bail on medical grounds when she has “such a good case on merits”.

“Why is your client not applying for bail on merits”, Justice U.U. Lalit asked advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Ms. Bharadwaj.

“You have such a good case on merits, why are you seeking bail on medical grounds”, Justice Ajay Rastogi also asked Ms. Grover.

Ms. Bharadwaj agreed to withdraw the current plea for bail on medical conditions. She had sought bail, expressing concern about her heart disease. Ms. Grover described the heart condition as a “ticking time bomb”. She submitted that her client’s co-morbidities also made her prone to COVID-19 infection.

But Justice Lalit asked Ms. Grover to explain more about the case against her client.

To this, Ms. Grover drew a detailed picture of how her client has been a noted lawyer, globally recognised for her work. She has taught at the National Law University, Delhi.

“They [prosecution agencies] claimed there is a criminal conspiracy, but nothing has been recovered from me. Charges have not been framed. Two years are over. My father passed away in the meantime... I have never abused the process of law... I need bail to get myself diagnosed medically”, Ms. Grover explained her client's predicament.

It was at this point both judges wondered why Ms. Bharadwaj had not applied for bail on the merits of her case alone. They, however, said they cannot grant bail on medical grounds.

‘Encouraged by court observations’

Withdrawing the bail plea, Ms. Grover said she was encouraged by the observations made by the apex court about her client’s chances to get bail on merits itself.

The Bombay High Court had rejected bail to Ms. Bharadwaj on medical grounds in August.

Earlier, the Special Court in Mumbai had denied her bail on the objection of the National Investigation Agency.

Ms. Bharadwaj was arrested in 2018 and initially lodged at the Yerwada Jail. She has remained incarcerated in the Byculla jail on charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 11:47:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-asks-sudha-bharadwaj-to-file-bail-plea-on-merits/article32683963.ece

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