The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the National Investigation Agency to file a short affidavit in the appeal filed by lawyer and trade unionist Sudha Bharadwaj against rejection of bail sought on medical grounds by the Special Court in Mumbai. This is the second time the agency will file a reply to the said plea, as an affidavit has already been filed on June 26 strongly opposing Bharadwaj's plea.
Division bench of Justice RD Dhanuka and Justice VG Bisht heard the appeal. As NIA reiterated its strong opposition to the said plea, the bench asked the agency to file a 'short reply' and adjourned the case.
Appearing on behalf of Sudha Bharadwaj, Advocate Ragini Ahuja submitted that her client has been in jail for almost two years, having been accused of offences punishable under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the Bhima Koregaon case.
Advocate Ahuja also annexed the medical report of Sudha Bharadwaj submitted by the jail authorities, which states that the 58-year-old Bharadwaj is suffering from ischemic heart disease.
Additional Solicitor General of Maharashtra Anil Singh appeared on behalf of NIA and strongly opposed the plea and said-
"She has been taken care of in the jail and her bail has been previously rejected on merits because of her involvement in anti-terrorist and anti-national activities.
As for the ailments, she has been given the best treatment inside jail and if needed she will be shifted to a hospital."
Referring to the contention that positive cases of Covid-19 have been found inside the Byculla jail, ASG Singh said that "social distancing has been maintained inside jail and currently, anyone can get infected of Covid-19."
Previously, after concluding that the medical report submitted by the Jail Superintendent was 'illegible', the Court had asked the authorities to submit a fresh report. On July 10, Court had directed the authorities to submit a report regarding prevailing conditions in the said prison.
NIA's affidavit states-
"The appellant accused Sudha Bhardwaj under the garb of current situation on the account global pandemic COVID-19, is trying to take an undue benefit of the aforesaid situation in seeking bail on the grounds mentioned in her application."
NIA also contended that the available evidence on record clearly established the present appellant accused Sudha Bharadwaj along with other accused was involved in selecting and encouraging cadres for recruitment in the banned Maoist organisation to go underground in 'struggle area'.
Special Judge DE Kothalikar had rejected Bharadwaj's application for bail on medical grounds on May 29.
The next date of hearing in the case is August 4