The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has moved the Supreme Court against 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. Bharadwaj was arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The High Court on December 1 had said in its order 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 court granted her bail on the ground that her detention under the UAPA was extended by a sessions court, which had no power to do so.
The High Court had directed that Bharadwaj, lodged in the Byculla women's prison, be produced before the special NIA court in Mumbai 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. A lawyer-activist who worked for the welfare of tribal communities, Bharadwaj was teaching at the National Law University when she was nabbed.
Poet-activist Varavara Rao is currently out on medical bail. Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, another accused in the Elgar Parishad case, died on July 5 this year while waiting for medical bail, and his death sparked public outrage across the country. The other accused are all in custody as undertrials.
The Bombay High Court had rejected the default bail plea filed by eight other co-accused in the case â€” Sudhir Dhawale, Varavara Rao, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, while granting default bail to Sudha Bharadwaj.
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 that the conclave was backed by Maoists. The probe in the case was later transferred to the NIA.