Denial of Bail by Bombay HC is Gross Injustice: Sudha Bharadwaj’s Daughter

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In her bail application, Bharadwaj had said that she suffered from diabetes and hypertension, and had a past history of pulmonary tuberculosis, all of which, coupled with her age of almost 60 years, made her more vulnerable to the covid-19 infection

Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Exactly two years after her arrest in the infamous Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case, a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court on Friday turned down the medical bail application of Sudha Bharadwaj, a well-known trade unionist and lawyer from Chhattisgarh, now lodged in a Mumbai jail.

Calling this travesty of justice, Maaysha, the activist’s daughter, said it was ironical that her mother who had spent her lifetime working with the marginalised communities in their struggles for justice and dignity and upheld the rights enshrined in the Constitution, was being denied the basic right to bail, especially during a pandemic, when courts had relaxed rules of parole, even for those convicted of murder.

This denial sadly leaves her to languish in jail despite her frail health, she said in a press statement.

Bharadwaj, who is currently in the Byculla Women’s jail in Mumbai, had moved the Bombay High Court on June 11 seeking an interim bail on medical grounds, citing vulnerability to the raging covid pandemic on account of her health conditions. In her bail application, she had said that she suffered from diabetes and hypertension, and had a past history of pulmonary tuberculosis, all of which coupled with her age of almost 60 years, made her
more vulnerable to the deadly infection. She also has complaints of osteoarthritis, which makes movement difficult.

In response, the Byculla jail authorities submitted a medical report 21 July which confirmed that she has diabetes, osteoarthritis, and a history of pulmonary tuberculosis. It also showed that her hypertension had aggravated to Ischemic Heart Disease, a heart problem caused by narrowing of arteries that causes reduced blood flow to the heart muscle and can lead to a heart attack.

This was reiterated in a second medical report submitted on 3 August which has caused great concern to her family and friends, and which was pointed out in one of the hearings of the High Court. The jail was then asked to submit another report at the hearing on 17 August.

On 21 August, as the third medical report submitted by the jail mysteriously notes only diabetes, completely ignoring her ischaemic heart condition, noted in two medical reports of the previous month, claims family of Sudha Bhardawaj.

This is particularly worrisome as with this condition, Bharadwaj is a potential candidate for myocardial infarction and should undergo further medical investigations in the form of CT angiography/echocardiogram.

“This report further overlooks her medical condition of osteoarthritis and records a mere general complaint of ‘bodyache’”, the statement reads.

Calling the report a clear case of misleading, if not at least an incomplete medical report, the statement further reads, “Despite these grave discrepancies being pointed out, the Bombay High Court has chosen to accept this latest medical report”. Consequently, the Court dismissed the bail application.

This dismissal of bail based on a fallacious medical report is extremely disappointing to friends and family of Bharadwaj, who have been very concerned about her deteriorating health condition.

Presently, there are 12 well-known intellectuals, professors, writers, etc. in jail in connection with this case. Starting from August 28, over 70 organisations have issued a national call for a week of protest, to raise a demand not only for the release of those arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case, but also the CAA-NRC protesters, journalists and other dissidents currently in jail, and to ask for the repeal of draconian acts like UAPA.

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