After three years of incarceration, Bhima Koregaon-accused social activist Sudha Bharadwaj was on Thursday, 9 December, released from Byculla Prison.
On Wednesday, a special NIA court in Mumbai refused Bharadwaj's request to be granted lenient conditions for her release on bail, even as it passed an order for her release.
The court had been directed by the Bombay High Court a week earlier to set the conditions for Bharadwaj's release on default bail.
Conditions for Bharadwaj's Release on Default Bail
The court specified that Bharadwaj could be released on a bond of Rs 50,000, with two sureties.
Bharadwaj will have to remain within the jurisdiction of the court, ie, in Mumbai, and cannot return to Chhattisgarh where she used to practice as a lawyer.
She cannot leave Mumbai without the court's permission.
She needs to inform the NIA and the court about where she will be residing, and provide them with contact details for herself and for blood relatives. If she changes her residence, she will need to inform the court.
The NIA is to conduct a verification of her proposed residence before her release.
She will attend all proceedings in court connected to the trial and not cause any delays.
She cannot make any statement regarding the case to anyone from the media.
Bombay HC Grants Default Bail, NIA Appeals Against It
Earlier, the Supreme Court on Tuesday, 7 December, dismissed the appeal filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against the decision of the Bombay High Court which held that Bharadwaj was "entitled to be released on default bail" in the Bhima Koregaon case.
The NIA represented by Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, argued that the high court was wrong in holding that Bharadwaj was entitled to default bail, and contested a Supreme Court ruling from 2020 which had led to this conclusion.
However, the SC bench of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Bela Bhatia found no merit in the NIA's arguments and dismissed the appeal, saying they saw no reason to interfere with the Bombay High Court's order.
Bharadwaj, a longstanding activist for workers' rights and lawyer for tribal rights activists, was arrested on 28 August 2018 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case, along with several other well-known activists and human rights defenders. She had been in custody for over three years awaiting trial.