There is no reason to interfere in the Bombay High Court order granting bail to lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj in the Koregaon-Bhima case, the Supreme Court said today, dismissing a plea filed by the National Investigation Agency challenging the order.
In jail since 2018, Sudha Bharadwaj was granted default bail this month by the Bombay High Court, which said that a court that extended the investigation against her and prolonged her detention did not have the jurisdiction to do so.
The bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar, which passed the order, however, directed a Mumbai special NIA court to take up the case on December 8 and decide on the conditions of her bail and date of release.
Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, representing the NIA, today appealed to the Supreme Court bench to consider the probe agency’s submission arguing that the High Court did not consider certain sections of the UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967) while granting the default bail.
But his arguments failed to convince the bench.
“We see no reason to interfere with the high court order. Plea dismissed,” a bench of Justices UU Lalit, SR Bhat and Bela M Trivedi said, clearing her release from jail.
The Koregaon-Bhima case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at an Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on Pune’s outskirts.
The Pune police had claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists. The probe in the case was later transferred to the NIA.
Sudha Bharadwaj is the first among 16 activists and academicians arrested in the case to have been granted default bail. Poet-activist Varavara Rao is currently out on medical bail. Jesuit priest Stan Swamy died in a private hospital in the city on July 5 this year, while waiting for medical bail.
The others are all in custody as undertrials.
Sudha Bharadwaj was arrested in the case on August 28, 2018. She was then placed under house arrest and was taken into custody on October 27, 2018.
She has been in custody since then, except for two days in August 2019 when she was granted bail to attend her father’s last rites.
The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave, held 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.