NIA challenges activist Sudha Bharadwaj’s bail in Supreme Court
She was granted default bail in the Bhima Koregaon case by the Bombay High Court on Wednesday.
The National Investigation Agency has moved the Supreme Court against the bail granted to lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj by the Bombay High Court in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, Live Law reported on Thursday.
Bharadwaj, who has been in jail since 2018, was granted default bail by a two-judge bench of the High Court on Wednesday.
The activist will now have to appear on December 8 before a special judge of the National Investigation Agency court in Mumbai for a decision on the terms of her bail.
Bharadwaj was among the 16 activists, lawyers and academicians who had been arrested for allegedly conspiring to set off caste violence in a village near Pune in 2018.
The activist had applied for default bail on November 26, 2018. The chargesheet against her was filed on February 21, 2019.
Eight other accused persons in the case had also sought bail.
Three of them, Telugu poet Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, filed their default bail applications on May 17, 2019, which was after the chargesheet was filed.
Five others – Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut – did not apply for default bail within the required time. The chargesheet against them was filed on November 15, 2018.
Among the nine applicants, only Bharadwaj got bail as her petition met the criteria required for default bail. She filed the application before the filing of the chargesheet and when her 90-day detention period was over.
Meanwhile, tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, one of the accused in the case, died in custody in July after being repeatedly denied bail despite his frail health.
Rao had been granted bail on medical grounds in February. He was allowed an extension till December 6.
The continued imprisonment of activists and academicians in the Bhima Koregaon case based on alleged flimsy evidence has been criticised by members of the civil society.
In February, United States-based digital forensics firm found that at least 10 incriminating letters were planted on Wilson’s laptop. In July, it emerged that evidence was also planted on the computer belonging to Gadling, another detainee in the case.
Also read: Bhima Koregaon case: How lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj got bail after three years in jail
The Bhima Koregaon case
The case pertains to the allegedly inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the authorities claim triggered the violence at Bhima-Koregaon war memorial on the next day.
The first chargesheet in the case was filed by the Pune Police in November 2018, which ran to over 5,000 pages. It named Dhawale, Wilson, Gadling and Sen, all of whom were arrested in June 2018.
The police claimed that they had “active links” with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and accused the activists of plotting to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A supplementary chargesheet was filed later in February 2019, against Bharadwaj, Rao, Ferreira and Gonsalves and banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Ganapathy. The accused were charged with “waging war against the nation” and spreading the ideology of the CPI (Maoist), besides creating caste conflicts and hatred in the society.
The Centre transferred the case to the National Investigation Agency in January 2020 after the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra, led by Devendra Fadnavis, was defeated.