Lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj on Thursday withdrew her interim bail plea on medical grounds after the Supreme Court refused to entertain her petition in the Bhima Koregaon case, reported The Hindu. Bharadwaj is currently imprisoned at the Byculla Women’s prison in Mumbai.

The top court said that she had a “good case” for bail on merits and that she should file a plea on those grounds instead. After this observation, Bharadwaj’s counsel, advocate Vrinda Grover, chose to withdraw the petition.

“You have such a good case on merits,” the bench of Justices UU Lalit and Ajay Rastogi said. “Why are you not fighting on those grounds?”

On August 28, the Bombay High Court had rejected her bail plea that said she was at a great risk of contracting the coronavirus because of her age and underlying medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension and pulmonary tuberculosis.

Bharadwaj was taken into custody on October 27, 2018, after “nearly two months of house arrest”. Bharadwaj’s daughter, along with other family members, friends and colleagues have demanded “for an early, decisive hearing” for her release. They have also asked for full access to her medical history in jail with all diagnostic notes. CIVICUS, a global collective of civil society organisations, had also expressed concern over Bharadwaj’s health in prison on Tuesday and urged the Centre to order her immediate release.

The Bhima Koregaon case

Violence broke out between Dalits and Marathas in the village of Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1, 2018. This came a day after an event in Pune called the Elgar Parishad was organised to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818 in which the Dalit Mahar soldiers fighting for the British Army defeated the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha empire. One person died in violence during a bandh called by Dalit outfits on January 2.