India

SC refuses to ‘entertain’ bail plea of lawyer, activist Sudha Bharadwaj jailed since 2 years

New Delhi: Refusing to “entertain” a plea on medical grounds seeking bail for the lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj, the Supreme Court of India on Thursday said that it shall be dismissed if not withdrawn and suggested that a “regular bail plea” can be filed.

“You have a good case on merits. Why don’t you file a regular bail application?” the bench, according to a report by news agency Press Trust of India, said in response to a petition seeking bail on medical grounds.

Bharadwaj, 58, Bharadwaj has been lodged in the Byculla women’s prison since September 2018 and has been detained in the Bhima Koregaon case that is being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

A bench comprising Justices U U Lalit and Ajay Rastogi dismissed as withdrawn the plea filed by Bharadwaj.

Appearing for the petitioner, Advocate Vrinda Grover submitted that the activist has been in jail for over two years and charges have been not framed in the case.

‘Nothing has been recovered from the petitioner and no incriminating material found’, she was quoted saying.

Referring to her health condition, the lawyer said Bharadwaj is suffering from diabetes and other health issues. “They are giving me medicine but several tests are required. Grant me interim bail. I will get diagnosed myself and thereafter surrender myself,” she said.

The apex court noted that a bail plea is pending in the high court. Grover remarked that she “sought” the court’s indulgence to get checked and the tests cannot happen in the jail hospital.

“You have a good case on merits. Why don’t you file a regular bail application?” the report quoted bench as having said.

The court then followed it with, “either you withdraw it or we will dismiss it” and suggested that a “regular bail plea” can be filed. The plea was then withdrawn.

Stating that multiple health conditions have put her at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus while at the Byculla women’s prison, where an inmate had tested positive for COVID earlier, Bharadwaj had priorly also approached the Bombay HC seeking bail, saying that she suffered from chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

The court, however, had noted the submissions made by the NIA and the government of Maharashtra that the prison authorities were taking all precautions to prevent the spread of COVID and that they were providing necessary medical care to Bharadwaj for her multiple health issues.

On August 21, pursuant to a high court order, the Maharashtra government had submitted a report stating that Bharadwaj had been examined in the prison by a medical officer and that her health condition was found to be “stable and satisfactory”.

The report stated that Bharadwaj’s vital health parameters were stable although she had been suffering from mild depression and had complained of body ache.

The state said that Bharadwaj had been given medication for dizziness and had been advised to continue medicines for her chronic conditions.

 

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