Lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj released after 3 years of imprisonment

Noted lawyer and HR activist Sudha Bharadwaj. Photo: Twitter/Live Law

New Delhi: Human rights activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, one of the 16 people arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, was released this morning after spending over three years in jail.

The Supreme Court of India had two days ago rejected the National Investigation Agency’s plea to stay the default bail granted to her by the Bombay High Court on December 1.

“We see no reason to interfere with the High Court order. Plea dismissed,” a bench of Justices UU Lalit, SR Bhat, and Bela M Trivedi had said, clearing her release, a report by NDTV said.

Bharadwaj was released from the Byculla women’s prison after the NIA court set bail conditions yesterday. She is the first to be granted default bail in the case.

The case was earlier handled by the Pune Police and was later taken over by the NIA. She was initially at Pune’s Yerwada prison when the state police were investigating the case and was moved to Byculla women’s prison after the NIA took over. The case is yet to go to trial, the report said.

As part of her bail conditions, a special NIA court had said that the 60-year-old activist will have to submit her passport and stay in Mumbai. She has to seek permission from the court to leave city limits.

She can’t interact with the media on the case, the special court had said. Advocate Yug Mohit Chaudhry, appearing for Bharadwaj, had opposed the condition stating that this is an infringement of her freedom of speech.

The report said she was released on a provisional cash bail of Rs 50,000. She has been directed to visit the nearest police station – physically or through a video call – every fortnight.

She has also been directed to not establish any kind of contact with her co-accused in the case, and not make any international calls, the report said.

Bharadwaj was arrested on August 28, 2018, and was later placed under house arrest. She was then taken into custody on October 27, 2018.

The case was filed over alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave on December 31, 2017.

The speeches, police had claimed, triggered violence near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the city’s outskirts the next day. The conclave, it was alleged, was backed by Maoists.


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