NIA Seeks Urgent SC Hearing of Plea Challenging Bail to Sudha Bharadwaj

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Bharadwaj is the first among the 16 activists arrested in the case to be granted default bail.

The high court granted her bail on the ground that her detention under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) was extended by a sessions court, which had no power to do so.

NEW DELHI — The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday urged the Supreme Court to urgently list its petition challenging the Bombay High Court, which granted default bail to activist Sudha Bharadwaj in the Bhima Koregoan case.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta mentioned the NIA’s petition before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana.

Mehta submitted the order granting default bail which will come into effect on Wednesday, saying: “So I have to succeed or lose tomorrow. Defects are cleared. The petition is numbered”.

The bench said it will look into the matter.

On December 1, the Bombay High Court granted bail to Bharadwaj in the Bhima Koregaon caste violence case. However, it refused to entertain bail pleas of the eight other accused – Rona Wilson, Varavara Rao, Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira.

All the accused are lodged at the Taloja Central Jail.

A division bench comprising Justices S.S. Shinde and N.J. Jamadar directed that Bharadwaj should be produced before the Special NIA Court on Wednesday which will impose the bail conditions and finalise her release.

It had noted that a special court designated under the NIA Act already existed in Pune, as a result, the sessions judge had no jurisdiction to extend the detention beyond the stipulated 90 days.

Bharadwaj is the first among the 16 activists arrested in the case to be granted default bail. Earlier, another accused P. Varavara Rao was granted bail on medical grounds, while accused Fr. Stan Lourduswamy passed away in custody in July after a prolonged illness.

Hailing from Chhattisgarh, Bharadwaj, 60, has been in jail since August 2018 after her arrest from New Delhi by the Pune Police which was probing the twin case.

The high court granted her bail on the ground that her detention under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) was extended by a sessions court, which had no power to do so. — IANS

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