Elgar Parishad case: Bombay High Court grants bail to lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj
The HC also directed that Bharadwaj be produced before the special NIA court in the city, that will decide the conditions to be imposed on her bail and finalise her release from the Byculla jail.
MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted default bail to lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj who has been under arrest in the Bhima Koregaon case since August 2018. However, it refused bail to eight other accused in the case. Bharadwaj will now be produced before the Special Court, NIA, Mumbai on December 6 to define the terms and conditions for her bail.
A default bail is granted when the probe agency fails to file its chargesheet within 90 days of arrest of the accused. The eight other accused who sought bail were Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira.
The petition by Bharadwaj had argued that two additional sessions judges of the Pune sessions court, who remanded them in custody, had not been designated as special judges and therefore, could not have taken cognisance of their case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The high court bench comprising N J Jamadar and S S Shinde agreed that a special court alone can try offences under the UAPA. “So long as an application has been made for default bail on expiry of the stated period before time is further extended to the maximum period of 180 days, default bail, being an indefeasible right of the accused under the first proviso to Section 167(2), kicks in and must be granted,” the order read.
The HC bench said denial of default bail to Bharadwaj would amount to breach of her fundamental right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Justifying its decision to deny bail to the other eight accused, the bench said they never claimed to have filed applications for default bail after the expiry of the initial period of 90 days from the date of their production till the filing of the chargesheet.