Elgar Parishad Case: Sudha Bharadwaj’s Bail Order To Be Pronounced

Here’s a look at the legal status of activists were were arrested in August 2018 in the Elgaar Parishad case.

3 min read

The Bombay High Court is likely to pronounce its verdict on the bail hearing of activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj on Monday, 11 March. This comes about five months after the Pune High Court rejected her bail. Bharadwaj was first put on house arrest in August 2018 and then arrested by the Pune police in October 2018 in connection with the Elgar Parishad case.

While arguing for bail in February, Sudha Bharadwaj’s lawyer had said that she was kept behind bars only on the basis of a few documents allegedly retrieved from laptops of two co-accused, Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling.


Countering the additional public prosecutor’s claim that there is ample evidence that Bharadwaj was in constant touch with the other accused, Bharadwaj’s lawyer argued that she wasn’t a part of any meeting that was held and her call data records proved this.

Bharadwaj and 9 other activists have been accused of inciting the Bhima Koregaon violence and having Maoist links.They have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

As Bharadwaj awaits this crucial hearing, here’s a look at the status of four other activists who were also arrested by the Pune police on 28 August 2018 for the same charges.

Gautam Navlakha

On 28 August 2018, civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha was arrested from his residence in Delhi after a police team raided his home. Navlakha remained under house arrest till October 2018, when he was finally freed by the Delhi High Court.

The Delhi High Court in October set aside the earlier order of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate granting Navlakha’s transit remand to Pune Police. The court said there was non-compliance of basic provisions of the Constitution and the CrPC which were mandatory in nature.

Just two days after the Delhi High court order, the Maharashtra government approached the Supreme Court to challenge Navlakha’s release. The matter is likely to come up for hearing on 12 March.


Varavara Rao

Telugu poet and activist Varavara Rao's name surfaced in the Elgar Parishad investigation when the police arrested Surendra Gadling from Nagpur in June 2018. Like the other activists, Rao was placed under house arrest in August 2018 but once the house arrest ended, he was arrested by Pune police in November.

He is one of the 10 people named in the Pune police charge sheet who have been accused of having links with Maoists, and who backed Elgar Parishad event held in Pune on 31 December 2018. The police have also claimed that there was a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a charge that Rao has vehemently denied.

On 31 January 2019, a Pune Court sent Rao to Gadchiroli Police’s custody. After spending 11 days in police custody, a local court in Gadchiroli sent Varavara Rao back to Yerawada Jail in connection with a 2016 Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) case related to the Maoist attack at Surjagadh. 

Vernon Gonsalves

Activist Vernon Gonsalves was arrested by the Pune police in October 2018, about two months after he was placed under house arrest. Booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), Gonsalves filed a plea challenging his arrest early this year. He argued that his custody was illegal.

The activist argued that the prosecution had failed to follow due procedure while seeking an extension of time for filing the charge sheet against him and others in the case. This prompted the Bombay High Court to direct the Maharashtra government to file a reply to his plea by 9 April 2019.

Gonsalves’s bail hearing is set to come up before the Bombay high court on 13 March 2019. 

Arun Ferreira

Activist and lawyer Arun Ferreira was arrested by the Pune police from his residence in Mumbai’s neighbouring Thane in August 2018. Soon after his arrest, Ferreira too was place under house arrest along with the four other activists.

The Pune police however, arrested him about two months later after the Bombay High Court refused to grant extension of his two-month long house arrest.

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