The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea filed by the National Investigating Agency which challenges the default bail granted to activist Sudha Bharadwaj, an accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case. Bharadwaj was granted bail on December 1 last year after a High Court order.
Observing that there was "no need" to interfere with the order of the High Court, the SC bench consisting of U U Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi dismissed the plea filed by the NIA. Default bail had been granted to Bharadwaj on the basis of the finding that the Additional Sessions Court which extended her custody beyond 90 days was not competent to do so as it was not notified as a Special Court.
The default bail plea for the other 8 accused of inciting violence at Elgar Parishad in 2018 was rejected as they had not applied for bail when the right was offered, whereas Sudha Bharadwaj had, the SC bench noted. Bharadwaj is the first among 16 activists and academicians arrested in the case to have been granted default bail. Poet-activist Varavara Rao is currently out on medical bail.
Sudhir Dhawale, Varavara Rao, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira are the other co-accused and have had their default bail pleas denied.
Bharadwaj is accused under the UAPA of attempting to overthrow the Union of India and is allegedly linked to Maoists. She is the first amongst other 16 activists arrested to get bail in the case, which relates to inflammatory speeches being delivered at Elgar Parishad in Shaniwardana, Pune on December 31, 2017 which triggered mass violence at the Bhima Koregaon war memorial on the outskirts of the city the next day.
As of November this year, she had spent approximately 4 years in jail.