Father's Funeral to Access to Books: Sudha Bharadwaj's 3 Years at System's Mercy

Sudha Bharadwaj, a human rights lawyer, was arrested in 2018, and is presently lodged in Mumbai’s Byculla jail.

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After a three-year long struggle, lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj who is facing charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in the Bhima-Koregaon unrest case, was granted default bail on Wednesday, 1 December.

Bharadwaj was arrested in 2018, and is presently lodged in Mumbai’s Byculla jail, in connection with the case.

From attending her father's funeral to getting access to books in prison, Bhardwaj's life for the past three years was at the courts' mercy.

While Bharadwaj might not be able to walk out of prison at least till 8 December, here's the full timeline of her struggle:


28 August, 2018: Sudha Bhardwaj, along with other lawyers, writers and activists, arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case, put under house arrest.

26 October, 2018: Pune Sessions Court rejects the bail application of Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, also rejects an application by their lawyers for an extension of house arrest, sends them to custody till 6 November.

15 November, 2018: Pune police files nearly 5,000-page charge sheet.

8 August, 2019: Bombay HC allows Bharadwaj to visit her home to attend her late father’s 13th day rituals in Bangalore for two days.

28 August, 2019: Bombay HC begins daily hearing in bail pleas by Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, and Vernon Gonsalves.

8 October, 2019: Bombay HC reserves orders on the bail applications of all activists after daily hearings of over a month.

24 January, 2020: Centre transfers the inquiry into the case from the Pune Police to the NIA.

14 February, 2020: Order was passed to move the investigation to the National Investigation Agency court in Mumbai.

1 July, 2020: NIA opposes Bharadwaj's plea for interim bail.

24 July, 2020: Medical report by Byculla jail authorities confirms Bharadwaj is diabetic and has an ischemic heart disease (IHD).

28 August, 2020: Bombay HC rejects Bharadwaj's bail application that was moved citing her susceptibility to COVID-19.

24 September, 2020: The Supreme Court dismisses as withdrawn an Bharadwaj's interim bail plea.

29 December, 2020: Bharadwaj files an application in the Special NIA Court at Mumbai praying for the withdrawal of the allegations made against her in the reply filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

14 January, 2021: A Mumbai court has allowed lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, who is an accused in Bhima Koregaon violence, to access five books a month in Byculla District Prison, Mumbai.

13 May, 2021: Bombay HC directs Maharashtra government to submit Bhardwaj's latest medical report in four days.

11 June, 2021: Bharadwaj moves Bombay HC on the ground that upon expiry of 90 days of detention, there was no valid or lawful order extending time for the filing of the charge sheet.

12 June, 2021: Bharadwaj approaches Bombay HC seeking default bail challenging that the trial judge was not authorised to take cognisance of the charge sheet filed against her in 2019.

6 July, 2021: Bombay HC refuses to grant more time to the Maharashtra government to respond to Bhardwaj's default bail application.

15 July, 2021: Maharashtra government opposes Bharadwaj's default bail plea in Bombay HC.

4 August, 2021: Bombay HC reserves verdict in Bharadwaj's petition for default bail.

20 August, 2021: Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha approach the Bombay HC seeking clone copies of all devices seized from them by the NIA.

1 December, 2021: Bombay HC allows the default bail plea. "She will not be released from jail before the 8th. She has to be produced in the NIA court," her lawyer, senior advocate Dr Yug Mohit Chaudhry told The Quint.

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