Bhima Koregaon Case: Bombay HC Rejects Sudha Bharadwaj’s Bail Plea

Sudha Bharadwaj in her writ petition had sought bail on medical grounds in view of the COVID-19 outbreak in prisons.

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File image of Sudha Bharadwaj.
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The Bombay High Court on Friday, 28 August, rejected Sudha Bharadwaj’s bail plea. She was arrested, along with 11 others, over alleged Maoist links in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case.

Bharadwaj, in her writ petition, had sought bail on medical grounds in view of the COVID-19 outbreak in prisons, reported The Indian Express. She is presently lodged in Mumbai’s Byculla Women’s jail.

The court, in response to her plea, had said that the state will continue to provide medical aid in prison.

According to The Indian Express, a division bench of Justice RD Dhanuka and VG Bisht on Friday looked at a state government prison’s report, which said that a medical officer had examined Bharadwaj in prison and her condition was found to be “stable and satisfactory.”

SUDHA BHARADWAJ’S PLEA

Bharadwaj had filed an appeal before the Bombay High Court, after a special NIA court had rejected her application for interim bail on medical grounds.

Bharadwaj’s advocate, Ragini Ahuja, had reportedly pointed out that Bharadwaj suffered from chronic ailments like diabetes and hypertension and contended that these comorbidities put her at a risk of catch the COVID-19 infection in prison.

According to The Indian Express, Ahuja also pointed out that there was a contradiction between the 23 July medical report which said that Bharadwaj’s vital parameters were on the higher side and that she had heart ischemia.

Stating that Bharadwaj required proper treatment, and therefore sought interim bail, Ahuja said:

“The two reports are contrary to each other and the report dated 21 August might be bogus. How can a person recover completely of a heart condition in just four weeks.”   

NIA’S RESPONSE

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) for NIA Anil Singh, and Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare, on the other hand, told the Court that if Bharadwaj required to go to a hospital, even if it was a private one, the authorities would arrange the same, just as they had done for Varavara Rao.

According to The Indian Express, the NIA and the state government also contended before the court that they were taking all precautions to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the prisons.

WHAT DID THE HC SAY?

The Bombay High Court heard the submissions and looked at the medical reports, as per the publication.

Then the bench reportedly said that the present medical report probably dealt with Bharadwaj’s vital parameters in the context of COVID-19. The court also, according to The Indian Express, said that there was no substance in the appellant’s contention that the medical reports were inconsistent.

“In our view, no case is made out for grant of bail. This appeal is devoid of merits.”
Bombay HC   

BACKGROUND

A medical status report had, on 23 July, confirmed that Bharadwaj is diabetic and has an ischemic heart disease (IHD).

The report by the Byculla jail authorities, where she is lodged in connection with the Bhima Koregaon probe, was submitted to the Bombay High Court.

According to The Indian Express, her daughter Mayesha Bharadwaj had said on Thursday that the heart ailment had clearly been triggered by the stress she was facing in jail. Mayesha said her mother “never had any heart-related complaints before she was taken in custody”.

“Doctors consulted explained such condition… as serious that could lead to a heart attack. The medical report obtained from the jail does not clarify when this condition was diagnosed, nor does it explain the basis for this diagnosis.”   
Mayesha Bharadwaj   

(With inputs from The Indian Express.)

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