Pinnacle Court gives Relief To Activist Sudha Bharadwaj regarding Koregaon Bhima Case

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The Supreme Court today refused to interfere with a Bombay High Court order granting default bail to advocate Sudha Bharadwaj in the Bhima Koregaon case, paving the way for her release from jail after a span of two years. "We see no reason to interfere with the high court order," said a bench of Justices U U lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi, refusing to consider the submissions raised by the NIA which had moved the apex court against the December 1 order erred in concluding that the Pune Sessions Court, which took cognisance of its charge-sheet and extended the period of her detention under Section 43D(2) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), had no jurisdiction in the case. The Sessions Court was not notified as a Special Court under the NIA Act, the High Court had noted. 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. Solicitor General Aman Lekhi tried to make a distinction between the court trying the case and the court allowing extension of remand etc, but the bench did not agree. The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial located on the city's outskirts. The Pune police had claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists. The probe in the case was later transferred to the NIA. Although Bharadwaj is the first among 16 activists and academicians arrested in the case to have been granted default bail, the pleas of others, including poet-activist Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, and Arun Ferreira, were rejected. The High Court had, in its order, upheld Ms. Bhardwaj’s indefeasible right to personal liberty. It had said the guarantee of personal liberty under Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution cannot be thwarted on technical grounds that her plea for default bail was premature. That would be a “too technical and formalistic view of the matter”.