Lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon, has approached the Bombay High Court in a bid to seek default bail challenging that the trial judge was not authorised to take cognisance of the charge sheet filed against her in 2019.
Justice Sarang Kotwal’s single-judge Bench heard the plea on Friday, 11 June, and allowed the petition to be heard before a division bench.
Bhardwaj’s plea application, under Sections 439 and 167 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, cites RTI replies to indicate that Additional Sessions Judge Kishor Vadane was not permitted to take cognisance of the 1,800-page supplementary charge sheet filed by the Pune Police in February two years ago, LiveLaw reported.
This disputes Judge Vadane’s authority to grant extension for filing the charge sheet in 2018 and outlaws the charge sheet submitted later than the statutory 90-day period.
Filed through counsel Yug Chaudhry and Payoshi Roy, her plea states that under the NIA act, Vadane’s court was not the designated special court which was given the exclusive jurisdiction to try scheduled offences, including the offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Bharadwaj was booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), for inciting the Bhima Koregaon violence in 2018 along with nine other activists.
She was imprisoned in 2018 and is currently in the Byculla Women’s Jail in Mumbai.
In June, while hearing a petition filed by Bharadwaj's daughter, which sought her medical records, a division bench of Bombay HC had ruled that prisoners had a constitutionally guaranteed right to their medical records and prison officials should oblige upon any requests.
Earlier in August 2020, her bail plea in view of the COVID-19 outbreak in prisons was rejected by the Bombay High Court.