24 Sep 2020 8:38 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed as withdrawn activist-lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj's plea for interim bail, granting liberty to approach the court again if need arises."I am an undertrial in custody since 2 years. Even the charges have not been framed. I am 58 years old and I am seeking your indulgence for interim bail on medical grounds...", submitted Senior Advocate Vrinda Grover for...
The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed as withdrawn activist-lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj's plea for interim bail, granting liberty to approach the court again if need arises.
"I am an undertrial in custody since 2 years. Even the charges have not been framed. I am 58 years old and I am seeking your indulgence for interim bail on medical grounds...", submitted Senior Advocate Vrinda Grover for the petitioner.
The bench of Justices U. U. Lalit and Ajay Rastogi made mention of Bhardwaj's last medical report dated August 21, which had been prepared at the instance of the Bombay High Court.
"There is no denial anywhere that I have co-morbidities - hypertension and diabetes...these are co-morbidities for COVID...", began Ms. Grover.
Cutting her across, Justice Lalit noted the blood sugar level in the report- "Yes, but there is a problem only in the case of the severely diabetic. 114 mg is a controlled sugar level, it is actually good for a diabetic person..."
"Yes, I agree. That is not disputed...I am being treated and given medicines...but there are two diseases that I have developed while in custody- osteoarthritis, which is spreading to the hip region, and Ischemic disease, which is a ticking time bomb in these circumstances...the condition can deteriorate anytime...I need bail to get a cardio profile, a lipid profile, a kidney check-up...Please let me get these check-ups and I will submit to custody. I was granted bail one time when my father had passed away...I have never abused the process of the law...", urged Ms. Grover.
"How many accused are there? And what is your role (in the Bhima Koregaon incident)", asked Justice Lalit.
"It relates to the Bhima Koregaon incident, where the investigation is still ongoing...a criminal conspiracy was alleged to have been hatched... something was said to have been recovered from others' devices. but nothing has been recovered from me or from my devices...I am a practising lawyer. I was also a teacher for two years at National Law University, Delhi. I am recognised nationally and globally for my work for the marginalised and deprived communities...it is nobody's case that any incriminating material has been found against me...", replied Ms. Grover.
"Have you filed any applications for bail on merits?", inquired Justice Lalit.
"There were some in the Bombay HC. One was dismissed, but we have not come in SLP before Your Lordships...", replied Ms. Grover.
"If you are approaching us only on medical grounds, we are not with you...you are saying diabetes...", observed Justice Lalit.
"I am not on diabetes, but I am talking of Ischemic heart disease that I have developed while in custody...", pressed Ms. Grover. Justice Lalit observed that such diagnosis was not part of the medical report on record. "Where does it say (that she is detected with the heart disease)...which hospitals' report is it?", asked the judge.
Responding that the report is of the Byculla Central Women's Prison, Maharashtra where Bhardwaj is lodged, Ms. Grover indicated an earlier report of July 20, revealing that the petitioner is a "known diabetic", also suffering from "moderate depression", which was the diagnosis on examination by a psychiatrist, and that she is undergoing medication for osteoarthritis.
"There is another report of August 3, saying that she has a history of TuberCulosis, that she was detected with diabetes in 2018. It also names the tablets for Ischemic heart disease", urged Ms. Grover.
"That is why the High Court has directed a re-examination. And the later report was found to be in order", said Justice Lalit.
Referring to the latest report of August 21, Ms. Grover submitted, "It says that she is a known case of diabetes, and that she is taking (name of the medicine) which is for heart disease...my condition has deteriorated in the past two years...I can get checked at a hospital - lipid profile, cardio profile are not possible in jail!"
At this point, Justice Rastogi cited from the records that Bhardwaj had complained of body-ache, that she is suffering from diabetes and moderate depression, that she is being treated by the visiting psychiatrist. He further pointed out that the names of the medicines being administered to her are also mentioned, that the medicines are available in jail and are being given to her on government cost. "She has no symptoms of cold, cough, fever, breathlessness',indicated the judge.
"Your statement before the High Court was that the report is false", demanded Justice Rastogi. "No, Your Lordships'...it was argued that it needs to be cross-examined...", replied Ms. Grover.
"The statement before the High Court was that the report is false? Please say 'yes' or 'no'...You have the right to keep silent. But I am requesting...Who made the statement that the report is false?", pressed Justice Rastogi. " Please let me explain...I was not the counsel in the High Court...We are not doctors, we are lawyers. We had to check the medicine with the disease. We don't have an understanding of the medicine but the disease...the name of the doctor who wrote the report was changed...", replied the Senior Advocate.
"You have a good case on merits. Why have you not moved for regular bail?", asked the bench. "Now that Your Lordships' have suggested this, we will do so...", said Ms. Grover.
"You may choose to withdraw the plea, or we will dismiss it. Medical condition is not stable, it keeps changing...On this account, you can move the court again...", said Justice Lalit.
Finally, Ms. Grover agreed to withdraw the petition